AFFORDABLE HOUSING SOLUTIONS FOR AGING IN PLACE:
Part 1 of 3: Obstacles to Aging in Place
By Eva Otto- Designated Broker, MES, LEED AP, Ecobroker,
Aging in place is simply the ability to stay in your home and age around your neighborhood and your family safely, independently and comfortably, no matter what your age, ability, or income.
Moving is one of the life’s biggest stressors amongst divorce, death, illness, and losing a job. It’s hard to leave your friends or your family or your neighborhood, no matter what age. However as we grow older, we become even more set in our habits and the prospect of being able to age in place is the most comforting. This is an issue that’s facing at least one third of the households today and we have many more households that are getting into a position to age in place as baby boomers soar past age sixty-five.
“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Americans 65 and older will rise from 35 million people in 2000 to more than 73 million in 2030. “- Tim Savoy, The Washington Post, March 14, 2016
Many people know the Ballard locks project. This was Edith Macefield’s house an elderly woman and real estate holdout. She was fixed on aging in her own 108 yr old farmhouse and decided that she was not going to move or sell to a developer. Her story is heart wrenching.
Obstacles to Aging in Place
As a brokerage with attention to health and wellness, healthy homes are something that we at Infiniti Real Estate and Development address often. As we age in place we have changing healthcare needs that can create obstacles to staying in our home. Most often we see how a health concern can then compound into a house concern because failing health makes it hard for us to keep up with the maintenance of our house. The reverse is also true, where the house could be sick due to disrepair, or maybe an environmental issue in the house such as mold that is making the occupant sick. We often find our seniors on a hamster wheel trying to balance living in a healthy home and being able to maintain the home. Whether it’s loss of mobility or other factors such as cost of living; home maintenance is a big expense.
Financial concerns play a huge role in maintaining our homes. As one find themselves aging on a fixed budget the reality of spending money on fixing up the house may be limiting. Seniors may also be less likely to call someone and say they have a maintenance problem; perhaps they have turned off the heat because gas bills are too high or are not wanting to increasingly burden friends and family for help. Mounting financial costs such as rising property taxes and inflation for basic goods and services can create hostile environments for seniors to safely age in place.
Safety is an important concern to overcoming obstacles to aging in place. Making sure there is community of friends and care givers close by to address safety issues around mobility, vulnerability, or loss of health status can be crucial to successful aging in place.
Five Components of Success to Aging in Place
The AARP has identified five key components to success with Aging in Place that I would
like to share here: (change these 5 to an exact cut and paste)
- Choice: The number one key is choice; choosing to live at home, being able to choose to be in your place and being able to get the services that you need while you’re there. Having the ability to age at home means having the economic choice to do so.
- Flexibility: Means having the flexibility to have health and care taker services come into your home, or the mobility and access services outside of your home. Having flexibility means having the ability to stay at home and adapt your lifestyle as your needs change.
- Entrepreneurship: This is an emerging component of affordability and aging in place. Today when the cost of living is high and social assistance is often insufficient, seniors are looking at new models of revenue while aging in place. Utilizing ones assets, in this case one’s home, to offset the cost of living/income is becoming more mainstream. Entrepreneurship can have a key role in helping seniors stay at home and have the choice to age in place.
- Mixed Generations: A key to success for aging in place is models is inter-generational living. When we mix generations, we continue to support aging population that is contributing to a community. A lot of times older people need some younger people to do some chores around the house and they can hire teenager in the community, or a parent needs childcare that maybe grandparent or senior can provide. There is an amazing amount of quality of life issues that come up with mixing generations and it is an important contributor to a diverse and healthy community.
- Smart growth: Many of us from the Green Building and Sustainable Development community understand that smart growth is one of the main keys to allow for aging in place. With smart urban growth, if you lose your ability to drive, you can still take a bus, or if you need walkability to get services, or if you want to just stay engaged in the community, or walk to your church, you’re still having a really positive independent life. Smart growth, sensible transportation and dense neighborhoods to walk in are important for seniors actively engaged in the community.
Next week, watch for:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING SOLUTIONS FOR AGING IN PLACE: Part 2 of 3: How Entrepreneurship and Inter-generational livnig is changing the way we Age in Place: Co-Living and Co-buying, Shared Yards and Cooperative Housing.