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Dennis Hopper is right.

Older Americans aren't playing shuffle board.

Actor, activist Hopper hosts a current television commercial in which he tosses aside the dictionary and discusses redefining retirement as a dream without an expiration date.

He's preaching to the choir.

Older Americans don't go away to warmer climates to fade into the sunset, they don't disappear into a new home because of health reasons and they don't withdraw from active duty status.

To the contrary, people 50 and over are looking forward to an active and healthy retirement and the choices they have made about their home's location, design and upgrades reflect that optimism, according to a yet-to be-released "Senior Housing Study" from the CABA Internet Home Alliance Research Council, a network of leading companies engaged in advancing the home technology market.

The alliance commissioned consumer technology researcher Zanthus to survey 600 homeowners over the age of 50 who had purchased a new home within the last four years.

Among them, 390 lived in an active adult community (AAC), owned their own homes and had access to onsite amenities such as a club house, golf course, swimming pool and walking paths. The other 210 moved into a new home in typical neighborhoods with people of all ages.

Conducted in March 2007, the study was designed to identify what consumers over the age of 50 want most in a connected home to keep them safe, comfortable and living independently.

The study found:

  • That vast majority, 91 percent, said retirement or semi-retirement was the reason for moving, not a health condition, empty nests or some other family-related reason. It was a lifestyle choice not forced upon them.
  • Moving to a warmer climate was not a key factor. Only 25 percent and 23 percent of AAC and typical neighborhood residents, respectively, chose "live in a warmer climate" as a reason for moving to a new home. Perhaps even more radical, only 5 percent of seniors considered living close to medical facilities in their relocation process.
  • Among those moving into an AAC, 59 percent cited a desire to "live near people with similar interests who were similar to them in age and stage of life." The top reason for moving into a new home in a typical neighborhood -- cited by 49 percent of the respondents - was a desire "to have a home with a better layout."
  • Plans to stay active was evident from the 63 percent of seniors who have home offices in their new homes; 70 percent of AAC residents and 65 percent of typical neighborhood residents have broadband Internet access at home and 45 percent of AAC residents and 51 percent of typical neighborhood residents have WiFi access. Fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed had no Internet access.
  • And active life is fine, but so are conveniences. Virtually all the homes had laundry rooms and about half (49 percent) have what they consider a "gourmet kitchen." Less common were home theaters (10 percent) and exercise rooms (8 percent). Central audio existed in 40 percent of typical neighborhood homes but only 29 percent of AAC homes, but 40 percent of seniors who opted against audio wiring say they would have it installed if they had the opportunity again.

The study also found, generally, that homeowners over the age of 65 worry less than younger homeowners about independent living, feeling secure at home, using the bathroom independently, seeing a doctor on short notice, staying connected to family and monitoring energy use and conserving energy.

"What the study results reveal is that today's seniors are living full, healthy lives, have no intention of slowing down and want their homes to help them maintain their independence and connection to the world," said Woods.

"Seniors are designing homes and choosing upgrades that will let them stay fully engaged with friends and family. Hubs of activity, whether in the form of a gourmet kitchen for entertaining or a home office with broadband or wireless technology, are essential," Woods added in a prepared statement.

The study is due for a full release May 31st in Denver at the National Association of Homebuilders "Building For Boomers and Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium."

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