Functional Design for Any Age. Making Homes Comfortable for Years to Come.
Every eight seconds, a baby boomer turns 60. As the number of Americans growing older and living longer continues to increase, it's important to design houses that allow people to live in their own homes for as long as comfortably possible. Architects and builders can help extend livability in a home by incorporating design solutions that help maintain quality of life and independence as homeowners age.
Milgard is one of the few window and patio door manufacturers developing innovative products and solutions for this fast-growing market including easy open and lock doors and windows. In fact, two of our innovations have received awards for this.
- Milgard's patented SmartTouch® window lock received the Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation, making us the first window manufacturer to earn this recognition. For this same design, we were the only window manufacturer to receive a 2008 Bronze IDEA award.
- Two Milgard vinyl patio door lines use our innovative SmartTouch® door handle, which also received an Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation.
Why It's Smart to Design for Ease of Use
Residents over the age of 50 are the fastest growing segment of the housing market. They are wealthier and more active than past generations. Only five percent of the population over age 65 live in nursing homes, preferring instead to age in place, and to live safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or agility. Boomers seek products that help them enjoy their homes and make for easy living.
How to Design for This Growing Market
Ever-youthful boomers do not want products that appear to be geared for senior citizens or for the elderly. Consequently, the best designs are "universal designs" that work for everyone. The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina University defines universal design as "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost, benefiting people of all ages and abilities.
A 2007 Hanley Wood study found that boomers expressed the most interest in universal design features that were said to:
- Help them live independently.
- Make it easier for them to live in their home as they age.
Described in these terms, universal design appealed to more than 75% of boomers surveyed. Milgard SmartTouch hardware epitomizes universal design by coupling an elegant look with superior usability and ease-of-use.
Putting Innovation into Action for Those Who Need Help
Milgard continues to explore new ways to create products and solutions that help people live in their homes longer, more safely, comfortably and enjoyably.
Features of some Milgard products that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines developed by the Department of Justice include:
- Door and window handles are easy to grasp with one hand and do not require tight grasping, tight pinching or twisting of the wrist, and require less than five pounds of force to operate.
- Hardware required for accessible door passage can be mounted below 48 inches from finished floor.
- Door openings that are 32" wide at 90 degrees, measured between the face of the door and the opposite stop.
- Optional electronic operators on casements, awnings and skylights.
For more information, see our white paper, "Innovation Key to Ease-of-Use and Accessibility."