New tip sheet highlights aging in place trends and challenges

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The U.S. population of people 65 and older is expected to reach around 71 million by 2030 — nearly double that in 2006. By 2030, older adults will comprise about 20% of the population. By 2034,  the U.S. Census Bureau projects that older adults will edge out children in population size. The number of adults ages 85 and older, the group most often needing help with basic personal care, will nearly quadruple between 2000 and 2040, the Urban Institute predicts.

The majority of older people87% — want to remain in their current home and community as they age. Doing so while staying as safe and independent as possible can pose challenges.  So, planning ahead is crucial, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Covering aging in place trends in your community and state is an opportunity for reporters to explore what financial, supportive housing and social services are available and where gaps exist, especially in states where populations are skewing older. Approximately 25% of older Americans live in one of three states: California, Florida, and Texas. Seven other states — Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — account for another 25% of Americans age 65 or older, according to the Population Reference Bureau. How can they remain safely at home? Where will they go if unable to live independently?

While retirement, assisted living, or continuing care communities have their appeal, they’re not for everyone. These options can also be expensive. For some, home modifications, in-home assistance or other supportive programs are more viable options.  However, despite the desire to remain in place, doing so can be daunting, according to a report from Fresenius Medical Care. Their survey of 2,000 older people found financial barriers along with other key social determinants of health such as food insecurity, lack of a strong social support network, and trouble completing everyday tasks were significant roadblocks to successful aging in place.

And what about access to age-friendly health care and options for low-income seniors to remain at home? These are questions that must be addressed in the quest to support people who want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. A new aging in place tip sheet highlights some of the issues and resources reporters can use to begin their investigation into local options to help older adults age at home.

This is the first of several related aging in place tip sheets, part of a deeper dive into some of the elements which comprise successful aging at home. Of course, the specific picture will look different for every older person — technology, for example, may play a greater or lesser role. Geography, family and paid caregiving, health/frailty status, racial, ethnic and economic disparities will also factor in a person’s ability to age in place. We’ll be looking at some of these additional challenges in the coming months.

Resources for reporters

  • The National Institute on Aging offers tips and guidelines for consumers who want to age in place.
  • This report from the Bipartisan Policy Center examines the connections between housing, architecture, health care, information technology, telecommunications, transportation, urban planning, and financial services to help meet the growing challenge of aging at home.
  • Area Agencies on Aging are good resources to find out about local programs and services by zip code.

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