Millennials now are the largest generation - surpassing the Baby Boomers. The Boomers once accounted for roughly one-quarter of the population. Now they are second to the much larger Millennials. The current generation - the so-called "Z" generation - from 2000-2020 (roughly) will be in second place when they are finished and the next generation (whatever it will be called or known by) begins.
Because Millennials as a group have been slow - and in many cases just reluctant - to enter the housing market as homeowners, preferring instead to rent or live at home with parents - they may not be that interested in making that move again anytime soon. In other words, they may purchase a home for the long-term.
This is where we have the opportunity to get it right - to build, create, and modify homes to provide universal design strategies , solutions, and treatments that will enable these Millennial buyers to stay in those home for an indefinite period of time and have those home be accommodating to them and their changing needs over time.
While there is an emphasis on creating safe and accessible homes for the so-called senior market, we certainly need to be open to creating aging in place treatments in homes that would serve younger people. In some cases it is the home we are modifying to fit whomever lives there because the homes themselves are several decades old and have had little done to them to promote access and function.
In other instances, the homes are newer but still need to be approached with the idea of people moving into them that might have those homes for many years to come. In fact, one approach to creating safe and accessible solutions for people is to view each home purchase - new or existing construction - as the last home that the customer will ever purchase (even if it's their first one and even if it turns out that another home or two is purchased over their lifetime).
When our paradigm is such that we view Millennials about to purchase a new or resale home and then perhaps live in it for many additional years, we want it to provide the maximum amount of comfort, enjoyment, and function as possible. We need to make sure it is totally accessible to them - and the guests they invite into their home or have call upon them.
If we are committed to making sure that homes provide good, wide, well-lit interior and exterior areas for access and maneuverability, ease of use, cabinetry and appliances that require little physical effort to operate, safe footing, sustainable products (for durability, efficiency, and economy), and conveniently located appointments and amenities, we will be giving these soon-to-be homeowners a quality investment than can grow with them and not need a range of improvements over time to keep up with their changing needs.
A universal design approach now will make allow us to get it right in terms of providing for long-term usage and make aging in place very practical for these new homeowners for however long they are remain in these homes.