By 2050, nearly 90,000,000 Americans will be age 65 or older. Seniors comprise the largest single growing sector of the population, a fact that many home builders and designers have been taking note of in recent years. As a result, many builders are implementing universal design features into their new construction projects.
Universal design is a set of principles that is meant to allow seniors to have easier access in the home, yet not at the exclusion of others. It is designed to allow multiple generations of a single family to inhabit the same space with ease, comfort, and without a loss of personal touches.
Some of what universal design does is make homes safer for seniors. Many bathrooms, for example, feature the same kind of design elements you might find in a public toilet that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These bathrooms might feature grab bars, handholds, and shower or bathtub fixtures with seats and handheld shower-head attachments.
But unlike the often sterile features you might find in the nursing home or hospital environment, universal design seeks to make homes feel comfortable at the same time. Easy to use light fixtures, flowing floor plans, and other elements are designed to allow seniors to live in the same environment that a younger family would occupy.
Home builders are also creating more properties devoted to multigenerational families. These homes feature separate living quarters that allow parents, grandparents, and grandchildren to live in the same home without feeling too cramped.