For the vast majority of the 10,000 (or so) baby boomers who are turning 65 every day for the next 15 years, remaining in their home, or “aging in place,” is a necessity, but one that may hinge on how retrofitted their home is for health, safety and comfort.
“You need to plan for reduced eyesight, poorer balance, diminished flexibility and less energy for upkeep,” said designer and home-improvement expert Vicki Payne. “Making upgrades now to accommodate changing needs can make the difference between staying in your home or having to move.”
To ensure that a home is “age-in-place” ready, it should have no-slip floors, bathrooms with grab bars and curbless tiled showers, upgraded lighting, wider doors, levers instead of knobs, drawers instead of cabinets and higher electrical outlets.
“For boomers’ peace of mind and quality of life, vinyl siding is an ideal solution,” Payne said. “It withstands sun, heat, cold and strong winds, never needs painting or recaulking and it only requires periodic cleaning with a garden hose, soft-bristle brush and a bucket of soapy water. In addition, insulated siding can save on energy costs, improve comfort by preventing drafts and reduce noise.”
As an added bonus, because vinyl siding is water resistant, a vinyl-sided home is less susceptible to water damage and the serious issues that can follow—not an insignificant consideration, according to a study conducted by home remodeling and design website Houzz.com.
According to the study, one in five homeowners perceives their home as having a negative effect on their health. With baby boomers and gen X’rs being the most critical of their homes’ environment, nearly half said preventing health problems and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are motivation for home refurbishment. Those homeowners who rated their houses as healthy were more likely to have made upgrades in the last 12 months.
“Homeowners are recognizing that their homes can have considerable impact on their well-being—physical, psychological and economic,” Payne said. “Retirees don’t want surprises. That’s why materials selection is an important part of any renovation, and partly why vinyl siding has been the number-one choice in exterior cladding for the last 20 years.”
The NAHB Remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in collaboration with Home Innovation Research Labs, NAHB 50+ Housing Council and the AARP, developed the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to work with boomers who will soon require home modifications. While most CAPS professionals are remodelers, an in-creasing number are general contractors, designers, architects and health care professionals. More information can be found at www.nahb.org.
To learn more about vinyl siding, visit www.vinylsiding.org.