The Baby Boomer generation, the largest in American history (born between 1946 and 1964), is at or nearing retirement age. Each day 10,000 Americans reach the age of 65 and that trend will continue every day for the next 19 years. In additional life expectancy for those ages 65 in 1972 was 15.2 more years while in 2010 this figure has risen to 19.1 years. The Boomers are living longer and more active than any generation before.
Much of the population cannot afford the cost of assisted living so the choice to “stay at home” is often reliant upon financial constraints. The average nursing home in Oregon costs over $8,000 and the average assisted living center in the state charges $4,000 per month (according to a survey conducted by MetLife).
Many of the homes we live in today or even those currently under construction are not designed to accommodate this desire. The Lifelong Housing Certification was created in order change the way we think about home design. There are simple and cost-effective modifications many homeowners and builders can make to help keep a home comfortable, safe and liveable. Using Universal Design principals there are practical ways a home can be designed or updated to support your needs and lifestyle at any age.
The existing U.S. housing stock is unprepared to meet the escalating need for affordability, accessibility, social connectivity and supportive services this aging population will require. The Harvard Study of Universal Design standards reports that currently only one percent of housing units in America have all five of the main features implemented including: no-step entry; single-floor living; extra-wide doorways and halls; and accessible electrical controls, switches, and lever-style door and faucet handles.
The Lifelong Housing Certification will provide a new way for the general public, builders, interior designers, planners and architects and realtors to find accessible housing for themselves and their clients. The program will allow existing homeowners to adapt their current homes and those building to implement the universal design standards identified by the project. With 78 million baby boomers retiring, the demand will only increase in the coming decades. From visiting toddlers and mother-in-laws to fall prevention and security, the Certification process helps make homes more comfortable and convenient for everyone.