(ARA) - As older adults age in place and more households make room for multiple generations, how will Americans respond to the home-improvement challenge?
Two important housing trends are both emerging and merging today: Older adults increasingly want to "age in place," while a record number of households have united across multiple generations. The second trend is in response to both the flagging economy and to support elder parents' desire to stay at home.
According to AARP, nearly 90 percent of older Americans want to remain in their homes as they age. But unresolved barriers to convenience and safety at home can force them to relocate.
And while extended families were common until World War II, the practice waned with more prosperous times. Now the multi-generational family homestead is making a comeback. In 2008 a record 49 million Americans lived in a household with at least two adult generations, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.
If your home is reaching capacity, as family members band together, you are likely faced with a home-improvement challenge. How can you inexpensively accommodate additional family members under a single roof, especially their need for added bathrooms?
One Is Never Enough
Costly, messy and time-consuming conventional plumbing can leave families stuck with a single shared bathroom. Fortunately, there is a smart and inexpensive way to increase bathroom privacy and convenience in any home, on any level including the basement, even in smaller homes.
Macerating toilet and plumbing technology lets you add a complete bathroom with an up flush toilet; and there's no need for expensive digging through the floor to install new drainage where none already exists. If space is a problem, these bathrooms can easily be installed in a closet or the area beneath a stairway.
The up flush, or above-floor plumbing system, is installed directly atop any finished floor or on basement concrete. The macerating pump uses a fast-rotating blade to reduce waste and paper from the toilet bowl, sending it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. Unlike sewage ejectors, up flush toilets involve no storage of waste.
The Sandwich Generation
Baby boomers can get sandwiched in the middle of multi-generational living, say gerontological nurse specialist Rosina Bloomingdale and designer Genevieve Liesemeyer. Partners with Pillar Design in Mukwonago, Wisc., the two women create designs that promote health and well being in harmonious environments.
"Many boomers still have children at home and/or in college," Liesemeyer says. "Some may have one or more parents moving in, too, while others have adult children moving back in with them."
Have a Gen X-er moving in with you? Why not add a basement bathroom? Need to help grandma, so she can stay at home longer? Create a ground-floor master suite with a full bathroom, so she won't have to climb stairs. Whatever is motivating your modern multi-generational household, with up flush technology, you can have a convenient extra bathroom anywhere, even in smaller homes.
Self-Reliance Plus Safety
Regardless of age, Bloomingdale suggests we all take steps to promote mobility and independence, while increasing safety. One easy option is to use bright LED lighting, which is longer-lasting, so there is less need to climb ladders and step stools to replace them. Bloomingdale also recommends keeping floor surfaces in good repair, removing tripping and slipping hazards, and providing easy access to phones and other essential equipment.
For homes with young children, the nonprofit Home Safety Council recommends constant supervision. Other selected safety advice includes:
* Lock up medicines and other poisons.
* Keep water heaters set at 120 F to prevent scalds.
* Use toilet lid locks to prevent drowning.
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