That brings us to a discussion of aging in place because no matter what type of dwelling someone has at the moment, the physical condition or age of the home, and their lifestyle requirements, everyone is aging in place in their current home. The larger issue - especially for us - is how to make those homes that people are living in more accommodating for them. This is true even if they are planning on moving into something else in the near future.
As for remodelers, this is the chief way homes are improved upon and made more adaptable for the occupants' current needs. There are many types of reminders - remodeling contractors, general contractors, handymen, carpenters, kitchen and bath installers, flooring contractors, lighting contractors, and more.
A frequent topic of conversation (and seminar topics at tradeshows and webinars) is how contractors and remodelers can increase or grow their businesses. A simple answer is for them to become trained as a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS).
With the CAPS designation, remodelers are going to find three advantages that will result in more business for them: (1) people will look for and seek them out on social media (LinkedIn, Houzz, NextDoor, Alignable, Facebook, Angie's List, Instagram, or Home Advisor, for instance), (2) they will have the knowledge to respond to consumer requests, and (3) they will be more attuned to opportunities in their local markets to provide services for people who need home improvements for safety, access, comfort, convenience, and other reasons.
When contractors learn how to serve the needs of people who want to remain in their current - seniors primarily, but any ages and abilities - they will find a willing clientele that appreciates the work they do and form a ready referral network to continue expanding their businesses. There is no shortage of work to be done.
People are going to require a variety of work - depending on their individual sensory or physical needs and the condition and age of their home. For mid-century and earlier homes that have not been brought up to current electrical standards, that's the first step. Increasing the service load, inspecting and bolstering circuits, improving the breaker panels, adding GFCI and AFCI breakers likely will be required. Then additional tasks can be evaluated, scheduled, and undertaken from there.
Entries and passageways (hallways) are something that frequently requires attention. Creating wide access points (a minimum of 36” but this generally needs to be increased), a low threshold step-up into the home, no visible or perceptible height differences between various types of flooring or when going from room-to-room inside the home, a covered entry that protects a large enough porch for people to gather awaiting the door to open and then not have to move out of the way of that opening door, and solid footing that does not cause balance issues or discomfort that the flooring cannot support them are areas that can be targeted and addressed on many homes.
People are seeking safety in their bathrooms which just happens to be the chief area where serious injuries in the home occur. They are requesting grab bars (safety assists, shower rails, assists, safety bars, wall supports, or safety grips, if you prefer) near the entrance to their tub or shower and on the inside as well. A wall-mounted fold-up seat or installed bench in the shower is important along with a handheld or personal shower that can be used while sitting. They need floors that are less slippery with a higher coefficient of friction. They need light – lots of light.
In general, homes everywhere of all ages need more lighting. This is so common as to considered a given. When looking at remodeling of any kind, think of adding more and better lighting.
There are many more ways that contractors can grow their businesses, but they need to look at the aging in place market. The demand is there.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.