Aging in Place

Dissertation - Aging in Place

Throughout my Ph.D. career, I have concentrated my research on accessible housing. Literature states 80% of older adults want to age in place in their proper homes. Accessible housing through Universal Design and Visitability can increase an individual's ability to stay in place. My research depicts the landscape of Denver's rapidly aging population through the lens of architects, developers, city policies, and local citizens and makes suggestions towards a more accessible housing market.

Colorado is facing demographic changes as the senior share of the population rapidly increases. Simultaneously, Denver residents are not prepared to age in place. Their homes do not include accessible features, such as those incorporated into universal design or visitability standards, which support an individual’s ability to stay in the home as their capabilities decline over time. Furthermore, there are no legal requirements to provide accessible features in single-family homes to support residents aging in place.

 

To investigate this problem, the study explored why Denver residents, along with design and construction professionals, are not adequately preparing homes for aging in place. The study assessed and compared levels of aging-in-place design feature awareness, implementation, knowledge of associated costs, and support for policies of the features in single-family homes from the perspective of the residents and professionals. The author administered two online surveys for Denver residents and design and construction professionals. The resident sample size was 177, a response rate of 15%. The professional sample size was 71, a response rate of 6%. The resident survey found 93% of the respondents wants to live independently, but only 33% of the residents were familiar with aging in place. The professional survey found 94% of the surveyed professionals recognize the importance of living independently, but only 46% of the professionals are extremely/very familiar with aging in place. Despite the lack of awareness, both groups expressed high levels of support for universal design and visitability features in new construction. Nearly 68% of the residents and 80% of the professionals support universal design in new construction homes. A bivariate regression analysis revealed there was a statistically significant relationship between the number of accessible features in the resident's home and the resident's satisfaction with his/her home as a place for older adults to live as they age. The researcher makes recommendations for the City and County of Denver in order to further integrate universal design and visitability in new construction and remodeled homes.