Health, Home and Happiness as We Age

Growing demand for healthy homes by the 50+ cohort

By Marla Esser Cloos

The 50+ cohort – from empty-nesters to retirees to seniors – place a high priority on health and wellbeing. The pandemic has shown us how important health is on many fronts – public health, personal health and how our homes impact our health and wellbeing. 

Pre-COVID, 72% of Americans believed their homes had a moderate to strong impact on their health – Energy Pulse 2019

Health and wellbeing are at the heart of sustainability, and we are starting to better understand the connection between our personal health and the larger health impacts in our communities and world – our environment. 

During and post-pandemic, we have uncovered things in and around our homes that we would like to change, repair or upgrade. We have realized we want to live closer to family or friends or live in a place or way we’ve always dreamed about. Many of us want to age-in-place in a home of our choosing, and in a community that is meaningful. 

Health and Wellbeing

Homes are being viewed in a new light post-pandemic. We want homes that support a good life – a safe and healthy life for ourselves, our children and future generations. With a focus on health, wellness and performance of a home, many features have become essential for homes, especially when the additions prove to keep the home durable and easily maintained. 

The already growing demand for healthy homes continues to ramp up as they meet the comfort, connection and control needs of today’s buyers and renters, especially for the 50+ cohort. 

Aging-in-Place

Sustainability and aging-in-place go hand in hand. One of the most sustainable things we can do is make a home or building last with quality building and materials. Homes and buildings with “forethought” – the ability to easily change a feature to accommodate change – are becoming more and more sought after. 

As we age, our homes become increasingly important and, to successfully age-in-place in our own homes, many of them need to be adapted to make them more “aging-friendly.” Everything from door lever handles to wider doorways and ramps may be needed to upgrade a home. Most homes will need such renovations, as only about 2% of our housing stock can meet these needs today.

“A longer-lasting, more accessible home or building that serves more people is the key to the intersection between sustainability and universal design.”

With thoughtful planning and foresight, home building and remodeling can include universal design for inclusive accommodations and sustainable, state-of the-art design for aging-in-place and accommodating people of all abilities. 

A longer-lasting, more accessible home or building that serves more people is the key to the intersection between sustainability and universal design.

Community, and its power

“Many people move twice in retirement, first to fit their lifestyle and later to receive needed support and care.” Forbes, Post-Pandemic: Where Will Older Retirees Want To Live? 

There has been a lot of conversation about the power of community. Community both in the sense of the physical surroundings and amenities which we live, work and play in. But also, community in the sense of the people we engage with in our day-to-day lives. Both kinds of community may connect with each other in both positive and negative ways. 

This sense of community may be provided in a multi-generational household with a sense of increasing interdependence across generations. More and more homes are being built or renovated to accommodate multiple generations under the same roof. 

Communal living may literally meet the need for community. This option is on the rise as more seniors are aging solo. Communal living can provide a network of friends to help combat the isolation or loneliness that contributes to declining health. 

Community may be provided in a small town, a suburb in a larger town, a housing complex or a number of other ways. A sense of community is important to many of us and continues to become a vital part of our health and wellness as we age.  Community and sustainability go hand in hand as they work synergistically to provide increased health and wellbeing to the people who live there. 

Marla Esser Cloos is a Green Home Coach. She helps discover and create better homes for healthier, more comfortable lives. She can be reached at marla@greenhomecoach.com.

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