GIVE HOUSING A VOICE: TOOLKIT FOR SENIORS

Overview:  By 2030, one in every five Americans will be over the age of 65, and our nation will face a severe shortage in appropriate housing to meet their needs.  As we age, our housing needs change leaving most seniors to 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. Seniors often prefer to remain within their communities; however, these factors present significant impediments to this basic and primary desire.  

Talking Points on Aging-in-Place

Aging-in-place is a diverse range of programs offered to help seniors successfully stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible.  To be successful, an individual might need to modify the home for changing needs, secure support services, or find new ways to stay engaged with the community.  According to AARP, a study on community preferences of older adults showed that 87% of adults age 65+ want to stay in their own homes and communities as they age.  More so, enabling people to stay in their homes not benefits seniors individually both in cost and care, but also helps to contribute to community stability.

Homeownership Statistics

The U.S. Census Bureau announced the residential vacancies and homeownership statistics for the fourth corner of 2017, nationally; homeownership rate for adults age 65+ was the highest at 79.2%.

In-Home Care

Staying in the home is more convenient and comfortable for seniors than moving to a facility.  Home gives a sense of familiarity and security and family caregivers give much of the needed aid.   With the 65+ age group, expected to double to 70 million people by 2030, family caregivers increasingly give care for aging parents, siblings, and friends.  Of the many benefits of aging-in-place, living independently or under the care of a family member or friend at home is a safe and healthy choice for seniors.

Cost Benefit

Instead of moving seniors to nursing homes or assisted living facilities, communities are taking the aging-in-place approach.  Aside from being preferred by seniors, aging-in-place offers major saving as a benefit.  According to research conducted by the National Aging in Place Council, care can cost on average $86,000 annually per person in a nursing home, $60,000 for someone in assisted living and $23,000 for someone aging in place at home.  There is an argument aging-in-place could pose as a solution to the strength and sustainability Medicaid and Medicare if enough people had the capability to do so.  

Community Stability

Seniors who stay within their communities continue to make financial contributions and strengthen communities by keeping the tax base and preserving neighborhood stability.  Forward thinking communities should strive to attract retirees and market their aging-friendly services to help attract new businesses.  Homes must change as well to meet the needs of seniors aging in place; this prospect is open to homeowners and construction companies for measures such as widening doors and hallways or lowering cabinet space.  Home modifications create jobs and opportunity as well as bring in added revenue to communities in need of these services for seniors.

Aging-in-place Initiatives

To make aging in place work, communities should have mixed-age residents who can aid seniors and neighborhoods where the infrastructure accommodates those with less mobility.  It also needs to have a network of skilled professionals; family and volunteers whose care can help seniors avoid entering long-term care facilities.  Beyond independent homes and apartments, seniors often need affordable housing options with multiple levels of care, this includes continuing care retirement communities, nursing home or skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, memory care or dementia care, supportive housing or day care, hospice services, Etc.  There are challenges that would go with any project of this size, but communities should consider all that seniors have done for our communities in raising its members, helping to build an improve its economy.  We owe it to the seniors within our communities to give them affordable and adequate housing.

Strategies

1) Share your own story.  Talking from your own personal experience is powerful.  Keep your story to under three minutes.

2) Provide the statistics and data to help your audience better understand the costs and benefits.  Affordable housing for seniors is a safe, healthy and cost-effective solution to giving proper living accommodations.

3) Appeal to your communities.  As an individual who has been a part of a community for a lifetime, you have played a role in helping with community stability and development.  Your community has become your home and you should have the choice to remain there so long as you choose.

Resources

Aging and Disability in America Data and Research (ACL)

Aging in Place – A Toolkit for Local Governments (AARP)

As senior population grows, aging in place gains popularity: Communities conducting outreach (APHA The Nation’s Health A Publication of the American Public Health Association)

Beyond 50 Communities: Creative Environments for Successful Aging (AARP)

Caregiving (Family Caregiving Alliance National Center on Caregiving)

Improving Access to Safe and Affordable Housing (AARP)

Information for Senior Citizens (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Livable Communities Baby Boomer Facts and Figures (AARP)

New York/New York III Supportive Housing Evaluation, NYC DOHMH+NYC HRA+NYS OMH

QUARTERLY RESIDENTIAL VACANCIES AND HOMEOWNERSHIP, FOURTH QUARTER 2017  (U.S Census Bureau)

Ulster County Office for the Aging (UlsterCountyNY.gov)

“Seniors” Success Stories

Prudence Nelmes, Fiber Artist, Woodstock Commons

Thanksgiving Comes Early to Tongore Pines

Senior Resident Finds Peace of Mind at Theater Workplace (Park Heights resident Anthony Cacchio)

 

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