Within the next 25 years, one in five Americans will be age 65 and older. If you are remodeling your home or building a new one, ask yourself this question: Will your house appeal to this changing population? It’s a question all homeowners should answer.

A little forethought and small design changes can make a big difference in making a house user-friendly for a longer time period. If it’s a two-story, stacking closets one above the other can create a spot for a future elevator. “Blocking” – adding extra support wood behind bath and shower walls – provides a place to anchor future grab bars. Trading a front door with sidelights for an extra-wide door can make access (as well as such mundane events as moving a sofa) easier. Being sure each room has three levels of lighting – natural, ambient and task lighting – ensures that weaker eyes can see better.

Helping customers create home environments that are usable by all people is a service offered by New American Homes, Inc. and its Newport Cove development, a planned waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes in Chicagoland. An example of a universally designed home, the LIFEhouse™ concept home, designed in conjunction with the internationally renowned IDEA Center at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, will be opening soon.

 A bath in the home, pictured here, illustrates several universally designed features, including a bench located across from the shower.

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