Baby boomers made up a ground-breaking generation that ushered in rock ‘n’ roll, embraced the civil rights movement, and can be credited (or blamed) for the hippie look of the 1960s. And today, they remain passionate about how they intend to spend their golden years.
A report by AARP, “Livability for All: The 2016 AARP Age-Friendly Community Survey,” stated that 80 percent or more of respondents considered it important to stay in their current homes as they age. This means seniors likely will dedicate plenty of time and resources to home improvements that will help sustain their physical needs and recreational demands.
The government has taken notice of this trend. Last month the Senior Accessible Housing Act (aka HR 5254) was introduced to the House, with the aim of creating a tax credit for people aged 60-plus who spend up to $30,000 to remodel their homes. The list of approved modifications would include doorway widening and installation of non-slip floors and entrance/exit ramps, and it also would allow for other features approved by the IRS.
“Anything that would encourage retrofits to existing baby boomer pools and spas is something APSP is in strong support of,” said Jennifer Hatfield, government affairs director for the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. “Making it easier to get in the water will encourage use of the backyard pool or spa, hopefully providing a healthy activity for that senior.”
Pool professionals see firsthand the desire of many seniors to stay put. “We’re doing a lot of renovation work on projects for that demographic, and a good amount of new construction as well,” said Adam Thyberg, project designer with Neave Group Outdoor Solutions in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
In addition to basic updates of their decades-old pools, boomers make comfort upgrades, including the addition of outdoor kitchens, fire pits and other features that help create entertainment spaces for kids and grandkids.
Anything that makes backyard living easier also has become a popular option for the senior set. Many of Thyberg’s customers in this age group are switching from sand to cartridge filters to cut down on maintenance. Automation systems that regulate everything from fire pits to chlorine levels also are in high demand. “As they go into retirement age, they’re not looking to make a part-time job out of maintaining their pool,” Thyberg said.
Accessibility and safety upgrades begin to become a necessity, as well. “Seniors want larger staircases from an exit and entry point [and] handrails, which are a big help,” said Ed Gibbs, owner of Gib-San Pool & Landscape Creations in Toronto.
Staircases often are modified for ease of use, he added. Rather than three to four steps, often they have five to six, with shorter risers and longer treads for added confidence and stability.