Dan Bawden of Legal Eagle featured in The Baltimore Sun

Our very own Dan Bawden recently gave his Aging-in-Place insight to The Baltimore Sun article named ‘With aging population, a gap in home design’. A short excerpt of the article is below:

Suzanne and Dan Swisher started looking for a new house a few years ago. With their children grown, they were ready to downsize to a place where they could live for the rest of their lives.

But Suzanne had to visit most of the homes and models on her own. Dan, whose spinal cord was injured in an accident almost 20 years ago and is now in a wheelchair, waited in the car, held back by steps at the door. Even some houses in communities for people over the age of 55 had stairs, Suzanne recalled.

“It was impossible,” she said. “Building a custom home turned out to be our only option, unless we would have bought something older and completely rehabbed it.”

Fewer than 4 percent of U.S. homes have features that ease visits by a person with a wheelchair — an entry without stairs, wider hallways and doors, and a first-floor bathroom, according to a report issued this month by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

But with the U.S. population aging, demand for those kinds of design elements is likely to grow.

By 2035, one of out every three households in the U.S. is projected to be headed by someone age 65 or older, according to the report, which described the country as at a “critical point” for planning for their needs. About 17 million households are expected to include someone with a disability that affects physical mobility.

At the same time, 87 percent of seniors surveyed by the AARP in 2014 said they want to remain in their homes as long as possible.

“We’re seeing more and more people trying to live at home … and the housing stock has not kept up with that pace,” said Jana Lynott, a senior policy adviser at the AARP who focuses on livable communities. “We need to completely rethink how we’re going to provide the amount of acccessible housing.”

Nearly 3 million households did renovations to ease access for the elderly or disabled in 2015, according to the American Housing Survey conducted by the federal government, which added the question that year at the suggestion of the Harvard housing center. That represented about 4 percent of all home improvements, the survey found.

Read the full story on The Baltimore Sun website here.

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