Remodeling to “Age in Place” Research
Boomers. One word says it all. They’re numerous — representing 44 percent of the U.S. population*) — they like to be heard, and they’re redefining society’s opinion of aging in America. Boomers don’t consider “aging in place,” but rather “living in place.” And as they do, they’ll continue to invest in their homes to ensure a safe, comfortable and stylish living place. What happens when “generation ageless” collides with the trend of aging in place? Moen calls it “Reinventing Aging.”
“We were wide-eyed, not tie-dyed,” said Jonathan Pontell, 50, in an article from The Los Angeles Times regarding how younger Boomers (those born after 1954) differ from older Boomers since they were too young to experience much of the 1960s.
Leading Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1955) are beginning to redefine retirement, and are trying to reinvent what it means to age by demanding the right products and experiences that are ideal for their unique needs. They constantly seek a chance to self-actualize, connect emotionally with family, engage with experiences, and work for greater good. Whether they remodel for aging in place, or opt for an active community, Leading Boomers will continue to push the boundaries of what constitutes “senior” living.
“Aging in place is the name for the trend that describes making changes to a home to allow older people more convenience and safety — and style — while living in the home,” said Jack Suvak, senior directorof market research and insights, Moen. “And this is precisely what’s driving remodeling activity among Boomers, particularly Leading Boomers. Many Leading Boomers are choosing to remodel in general; and that is triggering the ‘universal access’ remodeling.”
On the other end of the generation spectrum, Moen research shows thatTrailing Boomers (those born between 1956 and 1964) are in their prime earning years. They were hit harder by the recession and are sandwiched between caring for kids and parents. Trailing Boomers are searching for some kind of undefined escape from the present; greater economic independence, and a better balance between family and work. While taking it one day at a time, they find inspiration in their kids, friends, coworkers and celebrities. Many are building up their savings again, but wish to buy a bigger house (more space for kids still at home) or maybe a vacation home.
“Both sides of the Boomer Divide are doing their best to create a better quality of life as they age, and that means raising expectations for form and function, continuing to establish a personal aesthetic and making room for friends and family,” explained Suvak.
From an age-based perspective: spending on remodeling increases as people age.** And Leading Boomers — those with more equity in their homes or with substantial savings — will be the engine that’s going to drive aging-in-place remodeling, according to a May 2012 Fox Business article on aging-in-place remodeling trends.
Sixty percent of those over the age of 50 had a desire to age in place, and it “brightens the long-term prospects for the remodeling
sector and opens the door to a wide range of remodeling opportunities, particularly in the areas of universal design, increasing the
energy-efficiency of homes to lower operating costs, and adding maintenance-free and life-cycle products**.”
Examples of aging-in-place upgrades vary — both in scope and cost:
- Bath safety – Boomers often focus on style and functionality when updating their bathrooms… but safety often is an overlooked element. Why? Because many safety accessories have the stigma of looking “institutional.” Luckily, Moen® Home Care®, a leader in providing both safe — and design-forward — bath safety products has taken safety one
step further to ensure that now every bath can be a safe bath. The line of Moen Home Care Designer Grab Bars with Accessories combines the safety benefits of a grab bar with common bath essentials — a towel
bar, a paper holder, and shelves — to make each bath functional and fashionable. For more information about consumer behavior trends from Moen, visit moen.com.
- Other aging-in-place upgrades include higher toilets, curbless showers (a great retrofit for aging in place, but they can also make sense for families to avoid having kids stub their toes getting into the showers) and widened doorways. Ramps also have a dual-purpose, as they can enable wheelchairs easy access; but also are good for strollers.
“As Boomers continue to retire over the next 18 years, it will be interesting to see how manufacturers respond to the varying needs of Leading and Trailing Boomers,” added Suvak. “But one thing is certain — this demographic will continue to redefine what it means to age in America today.”
*According to Nielsen and BoomAgers
**According to a June 2011 survey of 1,954 homeowners compiled by Housing 360