Designing for an Aging Demographic

CLEVELAND, OHIO – December 12, 2012 – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the elderly population will more than double between now and the year 2050. That means about one of five adults in the U.S. will be over the age of 65. As the population ages, one of the biggest challenges for commercial building design will be to meet the needs of these older Americans. It’s not just for senior centers and healthcare facilities. The aging population will affect every interior environment — private, commercial and public — including restaurants, hotels, offices, retail and multi-housing developments. A key component of making environments accessible for all are automatic doors.

Automatic doors are an ideal solution to make entrances user-friendly. They provide a barrier-free means of opening and closing doors without the need for physical effort. For many people who lack physical ability or are encumbered by canes, walkers or wheelchairs, heavy manual doors can be a huge barrier to access. Automatic doors remove the problem and make everyone, no matter their age of physical ability, feel welcome without the stigma of asking for help or using a separate handicap entrance.

Automatic doors come in several styles. Sliding doors are ideal for heavy two-way traffic. Swinging doors are usually designed for one-way traffic – one for entering and one for exiting. Folding automatic doors are ideal for when space is limited and can be single fold for one-way traffic or double fold for two-way traffic. Automatic doors are available in many sizes and finishes to fit with most any design aesthetic. Consumer studies show that when given a choice, consumers prefer automatic doors and expect them at hospitals, airports, hotels/motels, shopping mall entrances, and retail stores.

Plus, when looking to make existing buildings more age and ability friendly, it is often more effective and cost-efficient to install automatic doors than it is to implement other architectural ADA requirements. Low-energy swinging doors offer a cost-effective solution to providing universal accessibility while allowing able-bodied traffic to use the door as a manual, swinging door.

For more information about automatic doors and advice in choosing the right door for your design, visit the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers at