) - With the vast majority of the 10,000 or so baby boomers turning 65 every day for the next 15 years wanting to remain in their current residence as long as possible, "aging in place" may hinge on how well outfitted for health, safety and comfort their homes are.
"You need to plan for reduced eyesight, poorer balance, diminished flexibility and less energy for upkeep," 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."
On the inside, common age-in-place renovations include no-slip floors, bathrooms with grab bars and curb-less tiled showers, upgraded lighting, wider doors, levers instead of knobs, drawers instead of cabinets and higher electrical outlets.
On the outside, automatic lights and well-trimmed shrubs, no- or low-step entryways, and wide, textured, non-slip sidewalks can improve safety, and durable, low maintenance cladding like vinyl siding can reduce upkeep.
"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 re-caulking, 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 energy costs, improve comfort by preventing drafts and reduce noise."
And because vinyl siding does not absorb water, and its rainscreening design does not trap water behind the siding, a vinyl-sided home is less susceptible to water damage and the serious issues it can cause -- not an insignificant consideration, according to a study by home remodeling and design website Houzz.com.
The study said one in five homeowners perceive their home as having a negative impact on 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 motivating factors for home renovation. Homeowners who rated their homes as healthy were more likely to have made upgrades in the past 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 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 increasing 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 at www.vinylsiding.org