Remodeling for Seniors as a Sustainable Livelihood

If you haven’t heard or seen the phrase “aging in place,” you’re likely to have heard an older person say, “I want to live in my own home as long as I can.” Increasingly aging Americans are staying in their homes as long as possible.  People want to live on their own terms, under their own rules. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that 89% of people want to stay in their own homes as they age. with 42 percent of seniors choosing it as one of their top three considerations.

Even when seniors begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care during retirement, most (82 percent) would prefer to stay in their homes.  Only a few express a preference for moving to a facility where care is provided (9 percent) or for moving to a relative’s home (4 percent).

At the same time, there’s are compelling economic arguments. For example, health care costs go down. A study of patients treated by the Veterans Affairs’ Home Based Primary Care program found total health care costs dropped 24 percent.

Remodeling the home is usually necessary in order for people to safely age in place. Thus a growing specialization of remodeling professionals is remodeling for seniors. The National Association of Home Builders reports that seventy-five percent of remodelers report an increase in inquiries related to aging in place. The association predicts the aging in place remodeling market to be $20-$25 billion a year.  That’s about 10 percent of the $214 billion home improvement industry.

 AARP identified housing features that seniors find are especially important in the later years as they begin to experience reduced eyesight, poorer balance, reduced flexibility, etc.:

  • Safety features such as non-slip floor surfaces (80 percent)
  • Bathroom aides such as grab bars (79 percent)
  • A personal alert system that allows people to call for help in emergencies (79 percent)
  • Entrance without steps (77 percent)
  • Wider doorways (65 percent)
  • Lever-handled doorknobs that are easier to open (54 percent)
  • Higher electrical outlets that are easier to reach (46 percent)
  • Lower electrical switches (38 percent)

Other types of projects are:

  • Installing additional lighting at entrances, in bathrooms, hallways, kitchens and throughout the home. Install
  • Putting in ramps when needed for wheel-chairs
  • Wider doors, particularly for bathrooms to enable easier access.  
  • Mother in-law suites that include a combination of a living and eating area, along with a bedroom and a bathroom to enable an older family member to live semi-independently with relatives.

It’s well established the desirability for communities of having multiple generations. At a  personal level, family life is enhanced.  At a community level, seniors’ willingness to volunteer their time is needed for activities and services necessary for sustainable communities. 

Remodelers can specialize in others ways as well. First, there’s residential versus commercial remodeling. Commercial remodeling includes making tenant improvements in renter-occupied buildings; adapting buildings from one type of use to another; and rehabilitating historic structures. Residential remodeling specialties include, such as restoring homes damaged by fire or suffering from other insurable losses, condo/apartment remodeling, renovating historic residences, or they might specialize by architectural style. Another way to specialize is by what areas of a residence you remodel.

You can learn more at sites like:      

For an initial free consultation to explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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