Why is it so hard to find an economical home that's designed in an elderly-friendly manner?

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Why is it so hard to find an economical, ranch-style home? With the active, senior citizen population rising so fast, why are so many, even new homes, designed with no mind to the fast growing elderly senior population (I AM TALKING ABOUT HOUSES THAT A SENIOR COULD LIVE IN WITH NO HUMAN ASSISTANCE, HERE, NOT NURSING HOMES)------ Developers would make TONS of $$ doing this! Also, Why doesn't organizations like AARP work with builders, developers, federal housing officials along with city/county and state officials on this?

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Great topic. Old age ain't sexy and doesn't sell houses. And, no one thinks about this stuff in their 40s and 50s. We built our current house when we were in our mid 40s. (We're early 60s now). About the only thing we did for the future was to make all doors three ft wide, and even with that I was just thinking about moving the furniture in and out.

No one wants to admit that the retirement to assited living to Memory care joints are starting to make sense for them. I'm thinking our next move will be to one of those places.

I was in the building trades for many years and worked on lots of high end retirement homes for rich people. These things would be gigantic, several levels, lofts, stairs, landings, just ridiculous structures for any purpose. In many cases I would work with the owners and designers on the lighting, power, security, sound systems etc (electrician) and these were OLD rich people who could hardly walk. What the F... Are they thinking?!

I think it's like the issue of getting your affairs in order. Mom and dad are in deep sh..... Before anyone thinks about a POA. The federal, state, and county govs ain't gonna do it. There's some good programs here and there but really it's up to individuals. The U.S. must be one of the worst developed countries in terms of how we deal with the elderly, and if the tea bag slingers get their way it's only gonna get worse.

So, start thinking about your sore back and bad knees now. Build the laundry room on the first floor, use 3 ft doors, and a huge old age bath with grab bars every damn place.
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I suspect that demographics and of course desire for the big bucks plays a large part, as well as the income associated with different age levels.

Look at the tv shows that feature upscale, sometimes impractical homes with all the high end features. Who advertises on these shows? Who provides the equipment and appliances for them? All of these groups have more to gain than the few companies that supply grab bars and advocate wider hallways.

But what demographic group can afford those? Certainly not all seniors. Those who can don't need to worry about these issues. I'm sure the Bushes or the Kennedys aren't worried about who'll care for them as they age.

But young and upcoming people with dual careers, dual incomes (both of which are in the upper ranges), and in my biased opinion a need to validate themselves through visible material acquisitions are I think the target group for the upscale homes that are so impractical.

Contractors, builders, even communities that want bigger property tax revenues all go for the more glitzy houses. Practicality? Who worries about that? Aging in place? They're too young to worry about that either.

I think the retirement communities are moving toward better homes for seniors, but some of them are also ridiculously micromanaged. Someone on another forum I visit wrote that in the community of one of his relatives, the HOA rules include keeping the garage door shut at all times except for ingress and egress. How stupid. Is an open garage door going to make a negative impression on other residents? How are woodworkers and people with home shops supposed to work in closed environments if they don't have adequate lighting or ventilation?

The lack of forward planning for an aging population isn't dissimilar to the approach of many communities that obsess with lawns and believe that these are actually hallmarks of great places to live. The amount of money, pollution, and carbon footprints created, increased and expended for these high maintenance showpieces could be put to much better use.

These are all such shallow approaches. There is actually one forward thinking community in this area which has acquired an abandoned goat to substitute for gas guzzling, loud, noisy, odor belching power mowers. The goat is assigned to munch his way to happiness by freely consuming all the weeds, wildflowers and grass he can eat in a certain area.

This community is also forward thinking in providing activities for seniors.

So perhaps what it might take is more environmentally and age aware people in office, as a start.

My self esteem isn't based on whether or not I have a granite countertop.
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Reminds me of those sunken living rooms with two steps down, the rage back in the 1970's. But not middle-age proof as we get older. And bedroom doors right next to the stairs, too easy to lose footing and tumble down.

Then I think on how non-friendly appliances are for elders. Even for myself, with my HE top-loading washer, I need to dive in to get that one sock on the bottom. Neither of my parents could do that. They have a new set of a regular washer and dryer, but the writing for the controls are in light blue and very hard for them [and me] to read. Come on GE, re-think this.

I have yet see a user-friendly refrigerator for an elder. I know I am ready to get a side-by-side as bending down and reaching into the back of the top shelf is getting to be a challenge. Don't care for the freezer on the bottom, another dive into an appliance to get something out.

Sinks and toilets need to be a bit taller... harder to bend down to the sink, and to land on the toilet. Love the walk-in showers, and forget about those large oval sunken tubs, a royal pain to get in and out, and to clean.
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I often ask myself why building codes still seem to be stuck in the dark ages when it comes to making homes accessible. To retrofit an old home may be cost prohibitive, but why are new homes still being built with more attention given to grand entryways and fancy kitchens than to practical concerns like wider doors and hallways, barrier free entrances and at least one accessible bathroom? There is an architectural movement called universal design that focuses on the needs of all ages and abilities in house design, and these homes are not in any way institutional.
I think the reality is that the housing market is driven by the idea that homes are built for a healthy 30 something mom, dad and two kids, and buyers are not looking that far into the future. Older folks are still living in those homes where they raised their families trying to make do until they are forced into apartments or assisted living.
(BTW, I have a nephew that delivers furniture and often larger items can not fit into brand new homes. You have to wonder who is designing these houses!)
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Add garage doors to your list. I have to stand on tip toes to get mine pushed all the way open.

Maybe we should all get together and start a turnkey elderly friendly home supply store.
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Look in HUD developments built right after WWII. Many of these developments are filled with practical 3 BR, 1-1/2 BA ranch homes. Toughest part is probably retrofitting the baths for wheelchair accessibility...but it can sure be done.
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Instead of putting in a ramp when my husband mostly got around by wheelchair, I had out sidewalk replaced, removing the steps and making one long smooth pathway from the driveway to the door threshold. (This also involved re-landscaping so the lawn made the same slope.) This is a much more practical entry way for strollers, wheelchairs, wagons, wheeled luggage -- I now wonder why more homes aren't built like this from the start. Walking around the neighborhood I calculated that less than 10% sidewalks had a sufficient length to meet the slope requirements. I'm so glad mine did! I have a cousin who built a new house shortly after his wife was diagnosed with a progressive disease. She wasn't in a wheelchair immediately, but he had the sidewalk done in the same way. Too bad there isn't more planning ahead in this way! (I think they are easier to shovel, too -- especially with a snow-blower!)
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I think Garden Artist mentioned granite counter tops. Exactly. How on earth did we get through life with Formica? How down market is that. When did it become fashionable for the basic features of our home to be made from "Unobtainium".

Well here's the plan for my old age home:

Large metal pole barn, half house, half garage.
Concrete floor with indoor outdoor carpet in living space.
Large bathroom with shower that you can ride into on your garden tractor.
All counter heights just above height of my Rascal.
Big drain in middle of floor to facilitate hose down by caregiver in event of adult diaper failure.
Driveway to street with vertically mounted roller pads on sides to facilitate launching car onto public roadway.
200 ft tower with strobe light beacon that can be seen from nearest Walmart to aid in return to domicile.
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Here in the northeast, towns want macmansions built instead of smaller homes. Supposedly better tax revenue, yet it will cost more to educate the children of the families that move into these humongous homes. Senior housing is definately cheaper for the community than family housing. Look at Florida's housing, senior friendly, affordable and mainly ranch style.
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If I fell and tripped in the kitchen, believe me I rather hit my head on Formica than Granite..... and if I hit the floor let it be that soft rolled vinyl flooring of the 1980's and not ceramic tile. I'd be more apt to live through it :)

Remember that Formica pattern that looked like small boomerangs?

Windy, interesting concept for your home to age in... especially like the drain in the middle of the floor.
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