ITHACA, N.Y. -- Evaluating how suitable our homes are for growing old inshould be just as routine as financial planning for retirement, says aCornell University housing expert.
Adapting homes for age-related disabilities would not only help olderpeople remain in their homes and live independently but also would benefitsociety by reducing the need for long-term care, according to JosephLaquatra, professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell. Ifsuch modifications are incorporated during building or remodeling, costsare not necessarily high, yet they enhance a home's marketability, Laquatrareported at the European Network for Housing Research Conference in Wales,Sept. 7-11.
"Modifications are often made when a disabled or elderly person suddenlyneeds them," said Laquatra, who co-authored his research paper with PeterChi, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell. "A moreefficient approach is to incorporate such modifications through the courseof home remodeling projects."
Laquatra said that 75 percent of Americans over age 65 own their own homes.About 13 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65 by the year 2000,rising to 20 percent by 2030, or about 52 million people. Laquatra urgedtomorrow's elderly to begin planning for aging today so that their homeswill be suitable for age-related disabilities.
"Since most older people prefer to remain in their own homes, whether aloneor with a spouse, it makes sense to incorporate modifications for theelderly while building or home remodeling," Laquatra said.
Laquatra and Chi submitted a partial list of more than 50 design elementsfor the elderly person, including:
-- Lever-type door handles
-- Package shelf near the latch side of the entrance door
-- Lighted door bell
-- Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
-- Lever faucets
-- Loop handles on cabinets
-- No thresholds between rooms
-- French doors instead of glass sliders
-- Dense, tightly woven carpeting.
"These kinds of features, just as easily incorporated as other featuresduring remodeling, can go a long way in helping an elderly person age inplace," Laquatra said. "Builders, remodelers and home owners need tobecome more aware of what is possible through design and keep thesefeatures in mind when building and remodeling. Modifying homes can have amajor influence on the quality of life of the elderly and can benefitsociety as a whole by controlling costs of long-term care."
Materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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