Aging in place, universal design, age-friendly communities: today’s boomers are quite interested in these buzz words, especially as they’ve watched their own parents transition to assisted living or nursing homes that they’d rather not call home. Just how interested are they? A 2011 AARP survey revealed that more than half of boomers view aging in place as a major long term care (LTC) concern, 49 percent supported the availability of LTC services for aging in place, and 59 percent strongly supported redirecting nursing home funds towards home- or community-based services instead.
The 78 million plus boomers have a powerful voice: Aging in place is now a hot industry, with products, programs, and professionals designed for consumers who want to stay home. Proof positive—Google “aging in place” and you’ll get an impressive 105 million hits. It’s a dynamic niche, and one that’s evolving as quickly as the boomers and seniors determined to stay home.
Along with aging in place, universal design is becoming more of a household term. Essentially, it’s about building or modifying places and spaces—both public and private—to accommodate people of all ages and abilities. More than just an architectural concept, universal design is a win-win for sandwich generation boomers caring for aging parents and their children at home, for grandparents raising grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and for all who are facing the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other chronic diseases.