Do you know what the current real estate trend for the baby boomer generations and their aging parents is? I can give you a clue - it doesn’t include stairs. Give up? It is single floor living.
In many subdivisions throughout the country where land is plenty, the multi-story home has been the popular floor plan, built several feet above grade. However, city dwellers typically reside in three to four levels due to the scarcity of land. These many levels have many stairs that are often steep without a functional handrail. Perhaps this was avant garde when built, but as these residents age their physical abilities become restricted.
As all of us age, we are figuring out that negotiating stairs can pose problems. For many seniors who suffer from arthritis, maintaining their balance and cardio-related symptoms suddenly find the traditional multi-story homes not only exhaustive but quite inconvenient. And, whether it is one flight or multiple flights of stairs, they can limit mobility of many.
What are the options for this demographic? Many empty-nesters are considering a smaller, one level home for simplicity. Those that wish to remain in their multi-level home can modify the current arrangements of rooms that will accommodate their physical limitations. Consider converting the main-floor family room to master suite. The same can be done with first-floor bathrooms. Laundry rooms can be easily transferred to the main living area, reducing the need for carrying heavy laundry baskets up and down stairs.
Single level living is quickly becoming the new normal for baby boomers and their parents. Through thoughtful planning and consulting with an Aging in Place contractor, simple modifications in existing homes and condominiums can make a significant difference. Imagine your parents being able to remain in their home while living their daily lives without having to trudge up the stairs? Everyone will have peace of mind knowing that they are safe and happy.
© Architecturally Speaking 2012