Posted on August 23, 2012 by Mike Means

By Brianna Bailey, The Journal Record

Originally published on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mike Means, vice-president of the Oklahoma Home
Builder's Association, spoke at the AARP Summit
Meeting recently.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Speaking at the 2012 Senior Summit recently, John Harned, president and CEO of the Epworth Villa retirement community, warned of the effects the growing need for senior housing would have as more baby boomers hit retirement age and more people live longer.

"It's clear that we are in the midst of a longevity revolution," Harned said.

As the next generation of seniors retires, it is clear they will want different housing options than their parents and grandparents, he said.

More seniors want to stay in their homes now instead of moving to a retirement community, Harned said.

"Senior living options must change," Harned said. "There will be whole new business models that do not even exist now."

Pat Darlington, one of the developers of the new Stillwater senior cohousing development Oakcreek Community, said many seniors want to maintain their independence.

"We don't just want to be on a cruise ship for the rest of our lives; we want to be driving the boat," she said.

Interior designer Michael A. Thomas, the summit's keynote speaker, said architects, builders and designers should work together to make homes more friendly for aging adults, so they can "age in place," a term that is gaining momentum in real estate and senior housing circles.

"Aging in place is really about finding solutions and enhancing options," Thomas said.

Designing homes to be more user-friendly for seniors includes things like making hallways and doorways wide enough for people who use wheelchairs or scooters to get around and adding grab bars and accessible shower stalls to bathrooms, Thomas said.

The 2012 Senior Summit was organized by AARP Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Home

Builders Association, Oklahoma County government and United Way of Central Oklahoma.

The goal of this year's conference was to look at how Oklahoma's housing needs will change over the coming years as the population ages.

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