Assisted living facilities have long been a destination for aging adults who require extra care. But the status quo is changing, and baby boomers - those who are between about 54 and 73 years old - are beginning to think differently about living situations than previous generations.
In fact, many want to remain right where they are, with 52% of boomers looking to stay in their current home. In the coming years, boomers might gravitate toward a housing solution that combines the independence they seek while still providing the assistance they may need.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are small, independent units usually around 800 square feet (not to be confused with tiny homes, which are typically half the size of ADUs and built on wheels). You might know ADUs by names such as granny flats, secondary suites or accessory apartments.
These dwellings are located on the same lots as single-family homes. They are meant to accommodate multigenerational living and allow children and grandchildren to more easily care for their loved ones. These structures could stand alone or be an addition to an existing home. With many older residents looking to downsize, ADUs are a great alternative to finding a smaller home, as there is a shortage of affordable entry-level homes.
Here are a few ways you can make ADUs even more appealing to aging baby boomers:
Keep age-related obstacles top of mind
It’s important to think about what challenges people may face around the house as they age, and how you can provide a way around those obstacles. Curbless showers, for instance, are among one of the most common aging-in-place projects, which make it easier for people to get in and out.
In the kitchen, open shelving provides clear access to items while spacious drawers underneath countertops prevent homeowners from shuffling through stacks of plates and bowls to reach something in the back of the cabinet. Wall ovens eliminate the need to bend over with a heavy pan or tray, while electric cooktops provide a smooth surface for easily moving pots and pans.
Be selective about appliances
It’s not uncommon for people to forget to turn the oven off or leave the freezer door open. Luckily, some appliances are designed to help with this. For example, the KitchenAid® Smart Oven+ with Powered Attachments connects with Nest to alert a homeowner’s smartphone if the oven is on while they’re not home, while certain refrigerators and freezers sound an alarm when the door is left ajar. When it comes to laundry, the Whirlpool® Smart All-In-One Washer & Dryer not only saves on space in an ADU, it eliminates the step of lugging all the wet clothes into the dryer.
Include voice assistance
Contrary to popular belief, most older Americans are embracing technology, with those 60 and older spending more than half of their daily leisure time on tablets, computers, TVs or other electronic devices. Additionally, more homebuyers are expecting pre-installed smart products in homes, like voice-activated digital assistants. This technology can help with everyday tasks like preparing food, allowing users to send voice commands to a compatible voice-enabled device to turn on their range or set a timer.
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