Manufacturers Cater to Elderly Needs

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According to the United States Census Bureau, the elderly population will more than double between now and the year 2050, growing to an estimated 80 million people aged 65 years and older.

February 03, 2000

According to the United States Census Bureau, the elderly population will more than double between now and the year 2050, growing to an estimated 80 million people aged 65 years and older. And more of those elderly each year are living either in their own homes or moving in with family members--increasing the demand for homes that can accommodate the needs of the elderly. Many remodeling projects include preparations for the elderly, and more manufacturers are offering products to meet the demand.

"I wouldn't say it's a strong market yet, it's a growing market," says Mark Nowotarski, Aristokraft brand manager. "As family needs change and parents move back in with their children--as the family unit changes, and the baby boomers get older--it will become more popular."

Already, more than 60 percent of those older people living in their own homes are in houses that are more than 20 years old, making them ideal targets for remodeling projects, according to the Administration of Aging Elder Action. And those same elderly are more educated, understand their needs more accurately, and have more money to spend, according to the Census Bureau.

Cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances and entryways are just a few of the areas that are ideal targets for modification. According to the Administration of Aging Elder Action, the most typical problem areas for the elderly include difficulty getting in and out of the shower, slipping in the tub or shower, difficulty turning faucet handles and doorknobs, access to the home, inadequate heating and ventilation, and problems climbing stairs.

Modifying existing homes to accommodate the aged not only reduces the risk of accidents, but it also allows those elderly still living at home to enjoy a higher quality of living. The most common modifications include installing grab bars, hand rails, shower seals and transfer benches, replacing nonskid strips or decals in the tub or shower, installing ramps for access, and installing additional insulation, storm windows and air conditioning.

Grant Davis of Sterling Plumbing has observed that several plumbing showrooms are now showing complete bathroom displays targeting ADA and elderly needs. "You learn a lot from what the showrooms are displaying and going after," he says. "Remodelers need to understand that these types of projects are emotional things. If they need to convert one of their bathrooms because they have parent and grandparent coming to live with them, it's an emotional thing. So, these companies are focusing on how to make that type of sale with the proper product. You have got to be sensitive as to why homeowners are doing this."

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