Almost every older adult — about 90% according to AARP — will tell you that they want to remain in their own home or in their community as they age. However, that can be a challenge as health issues mount, frailty takes hold or barriers like stairs seem insurmountable. Aging in place is often more easily said than done.
Challenges of social isolation, lack of nearby family to help, or appropriate, safe housing are among the biggest roadblocks to successful aging in place, according to the National Institutes on Aging. While some older adults can afford to hire caregivers who can help them with the various tasks of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or meal preparation, many cannot. Continue reading
A newly-released report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University says the U.S. is woefully unprepared to meet the escalating need for affordable, accessible housing that offers social connectivity and support services for America’s seniors. Many older adults already must decide between paying for food, medication or rent, and as the population ages this crisis is getting worse.
The new report, Housing America’s Older Adults, says that existing housing often lacks basic features needed by seniors, such as wheelchair accessibility. This lack of necessary features forces many frail and disabled older adults from their own homes. Additionally, isolation among adults who can no longer drive is an increasing problem, due to lack of public transportation and inadequate pedestrian infrastructure. These “disconnects between housing programs and the health care system put many older adults with disabilities or long term care needs at risk for premature institutionalization,” the report says.
The report calls for a combined effort of public, private, non-profit organizations to assess and address housing options that support aging in community. It also calls on individuals and families to be more proactive in determining current and future housing requirements. Many adults who are about to turn 65 are not doing enough to prepare themselves or their environments for aging in place, according to this article in the Washington Business Journal. AARP’s Public Policy Institute documented the decline in living standards many people face as they reach retirement age and struggle with changes in income and rising health care costs due to multiple chronic conditions.