How a third-age home can adapt to your changing needs
May 09, 2021
Malcolm X famously said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” These wise words definitely apply to a major life change such as downsizing. The planning phase to a successful transition covers a lot of territory. And just when you think you nailed it, think again.
You may have done all your homework to pull this off. Your finances are in place, you decluttered, you’ve sold the big empty family house in exchange for a new perfectly sized home. You’ve mapped out your future, and you can finally pursue your passions. However, there’s one important aspect you may not have considered. Does your new residence offer you longevity in the twilight years, when challenges to mobility, vision or hearing may begin to manifest?
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLACE WITH THE RIGHT REALTOR
According to research conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), 90 per cent of mature Canadians wish to “age in place.” This prospect begins with finding the right place at the onset. It’s one thing to add a fixture, or widen a doorway, but structural changes are an entirely different matter. This is why it’s important, especially now, to work with a realtor who understands your demographic and your unique needs, and has a proven process to find the right age-in-place home that will work for you now and in the future. At Transitions Realty, the core of its business model is built on providing Baby Boomers with homes that align with their desirable lifestyle, as well as cater to their future needs.
AGELESS DESIGN IS PARAMOUNT
We spoke with one of Canada’s leading experts, Linda Kafka, who is an advocate for inclusive, age-free design and is a valued and trusted resource for the residential interior design-build industry. She has an unparalleled understanding for creating “forever” homes for clients of all ages and abilities.
“The new, aging consumer is living a longer and healthier life than previous generations, and they want well-designed spaces that empower them to live in style, no matter what their age or ability,” says Kafka.
HOMEBUILDING INDUSTRY MAKING CHANGES
Currently, more than 80 per cent of homes in Canada require modifications to address the needs of an aging population. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association has also recognized the mounting need to help homeowners age in place, forming the Home Modification Council to address the challenges of those who wish to age in place and anyone else with accessibility requirements.
Thankfully, there are design-build companies in the GTA, such as Gonnell Homes or Gatti Brothers, that value and include aging-in-place design in their projects.
The progress is slow yet steady. Accessible building standards in commercial, institutional and healthcare sectors are far more advanced than in residential design, but Kafka insists we are getting there. “Building codes in Ontario now require wall reinforcement for future grab bar installations in all bathrooms,” she says.
SAFETY AND STYLE GO HAND IN HAND
And then there is the style factor. Finally, certain manufacturers such as Moen are creating stylish grab bars that seamlessly and stylishly blend in the space with the other fixtures, such as the faucet and towel holder, in matte black, brushed gold or other modern finishes. Good riddance to sterile, hospital-like grab bars.
Of course, leave it to the trailblazing Baby Boomers to be behind this improved built environment, permitting us to live in our beloved homes and remain autonomous, while mitigating the risks with effective design solutions. Boomers are notorious for redefining each stage of life, so naturally, a renaming of the aging-in-place movement to “living in place” was in order, adding a much more positive spin to the experience.
A HEALTHY HOME IS A FOREVER HOME
“I firmly believe that the homes we live in have an impact on our physical and mental health,” says Kafka. “When designed properly, our spaces will adapt to us over a lifespan and support our families. It’s essential that we design our spaces from a functional and wellness perspective and not merely from an aesthetic one. That way, we can truly live well and in place for a lifetime.”
Fortunately, future-proofing your third-age home will ensure comfort, safety and accessibility for many years to come. Kafka also points out that living-in-place design supports sustainability, meaning that if done properly, the space will not need to be renovated with construction debris going into landfills. “I foresee that Baby Boomers are changing the face of interior design.”
We aren’t surprised by the progressive innovations the Baby Boom generation has accomplished so far. It is only natural that the advancements would extend to improved design features that ultimately offer continued autonomy and enhanced longevity in their next home. Future property bliss is possible with the right house decision now.
We know Malcolm X would agree.