aged woman with pink eyeglasses smiling at cameraOverview:  As populations and societies change, so do living situations and housing needs. We live in an aging society that can boast now of not three- but four-generation families. One out of three people now reaching the age of 60 have a living parent or close relative who is 80 years old or more. Our fastest growing demographic, seniors face a daunting task: finding safe, affordable housing on limited or fixed incomes, facilities with healthcare assistance, and convenience to community centers and senior services.

Aging-in-Place simply means successfully remaining in your home for as long as possible. To be successful, an individual might need to modify the home for changing needs, secure support services, or find different ways to stay engaged with the community. Surveys across the country show that more than 85 percent of older adults prefer to remain in their homes as they age. What’s more, enabling people to successfully stay in their homes contributes to community stability. For example:

  • Nationally, homeownership rate for adults age 65 and older is more than 80 percent, higher than the national average (Anon. 2006). When residents stay in their homes, the community retains its tax base and preserves neighborhood stability.
  • Remaining in the home is less expensive than moving to a facility, in part because much of the needed assistance is provided by family caregivers. According to a MetLife study, family members provide approximately 80 percent of all long-term care services in the U.S.
  • The Medicaid and Medicare systems cannot support institutional care for all adults who will reach later stages of life in the next 25 to 30 years.  Because so many older people continue to contribute to their community, helping seniors age-in-place can benefit the community as a whole. Forward thinking communities should strive to attract retirees and market their aging-friendly services to help attract new businesses.
  • Access to transportation is critical. When driving is no longer possible, another ingredient to aging-in-place is access to goods and services, church, social gathering spots, and recreational venues. Unfortunately, most communities built in the past several decades were not designed for aging-in-place. Most people in America are aging in suburbs where little or no public transportation exists and they have to rely on automobiles to reach locations outside a reasonable walking distance. In short, the same neighborhoods that were wonderful places to grow up may prove to be terrible, isolating places to grow old.

According to AARP, 85 percent of older adults say if they could no longer live in their home, they would like to remain in their local community. Nationwide, communities need a variety of single-family, multi-family and less traditional housing options for seniors at all income levels.

Beyond independent homes and apartments, seniors often need affordable housing options with multiple levels of care:

  • continuing care retirement communities
  • nursing home or skilled nursing facilities
  • assisted living
  • memory care or dementia care
  • supportive housing or day care
  • hospice and end-of-life care

Talking Points
1)  Aging in Place. Seniors who live at home longer are healthier, more productive and happier.
2)  Housing is healthcare.  Safe, affordable housing provides stability in personal healthcare routines.

Strategies
1) Share your own story. Talking from your own personal experience is powerful. Keep your story to under three minutes.
2) Share the facts, not the argument. Let the data support your story.
3) Appeal to your neighbors. You have raised your children in this town, paid axes, made friends. you want to continue to live where you’ve established your roots over the decades.

Resources
Aging Readiness Plan, Chapter 2: Housing Options for Our Aging Population (Clark County Washington)
The Next Four Decades: The Older Population in the United States: 2010 to 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau)
Beyond 50 Communities: Creative Environments for Successful Aging (AARP)
Equal Opportunity Housing (NationalFairHousing.org)
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons (National Coalition for the Homeless)
New York/New York III Supportive Housing Evaluation, NYCDOHMH+NYCHRA+NYSOMH

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