I came across an interesting report last week titled “Housing America’s Older Adults: Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population.” While this 44-page report brings to mind visions of “old folks warehouses,” former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros called the report “a wake-up call on elder housing. One of the report’s authors stated “housing is so critical to so many elements of wellbeing, aging brings increasing risks of disability, isolation and financial stress. We do have time to prepare but we have to start now.” The Washington Post article on this report carried the headline “America is rapidly aging in a country built for the young.”
What is this all about and why should we care? Well, for openers, by 2030 the over-50 population in Jackson County will rise to 40 percent (from the current 30 percent) and one out of three persons in Jackson County will be over age 60. Sharon calls this “the silver tsunami.” The aging of the baby boomer generation.
This report, and many other studies and surveys points out that the greater majority of older adults want to stay in their own home and in their own neighborhood rather than move to some other alternative such as assisted living, continuing care facilities or other options. This perspective is called aging-in-place. The Joint Center for Housing Studies report by Harvard University makes several key points including:
- Existing housing stock is unprepared to meet the escalating need for affordability, accessibility, social connectivity and supportive services.
- Much of the nation’s housing inventory lacks basic accessibility features preventing older adults with disabilities from living safely and comfortably in their own homes.
- Our transportation and pedestrian infrastructure is generally ill-suited for those who cannot or choose not to drive.
- This disconnect between housing programs and the health care system puts many older adults with disabilities or long-term care needs at risk of premature institutionalization.
Late last year Sharon and I launched Age-Friendly Innovators, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (www.agefriendlyinnovators.org) Our vision is communities that embrace and support healthy and independent living for older adults and persons with disabilities. Our mission is to promote greater awareness of aging-in-place issues and the development of creative and innovative solutions to enable older adults to lead healthy and independent lives in a home of their own.
This weekend Sharon and I will be at the 2014 Southern Oregon Fall Home Show at the Jackson County Expo (booth 13) and will be doing a seminar each day called “An Age-Friendly Makeover for your Home.” On Friday and Saturday (12th and 13th) the seminars will run from 4:00 to 4:45pm and on Sunday the 14th from 3:00 to 3:45pm. Join us for an age-friendly conversation. We need to talk.