Housing Our Seniors . . . It’s Everyone’s Responsibility
America’s aging population is going thru unprecedented growth. According to ageingbetter.org, by 2024, the number of people aged 60 and over will increase by more than 15%. With better healthcare, this number is expected to continue to rise. With the aging of the large baby-boomer generation and expected increased longevity, the 50-and over population is projected to grow about 20% by 2030, to 132 million. That means that in just 12 years, one in five people will be at least aged 65. This brings an increased sense of urgency to ensure we’re adequately housing our senior population.
The vast majority of the 50-and-over population currently lives independently, and even among individuals aged 80 and over, more than three-quarters live in their own homes. That’s what is called “aging in place”. In its recent survey of 1,600 people, AARP found that 73% strongly agreed that they would like to stay in their current residences as long as possible, however, affordability was their main concern.
As the single largest expenditure in most household budgets, housing costs directly affect financial security. Today, 30% of those 50 and over, and 37% of those aged 80 and over pay more than one-third of their income for housing. According to Nado.org, of those, 30% of renters and 23% of owners with mortgages are paying more than 50% of income on housing, which is obviously a burden. When seniors have to pay a large share of their income on housing, they’re forced to pull money from other critical needs, such as healthcare and food. That is not how we as a community should expect or want our seniors to live. Ensuring that these older adults have the housing they need to enjoy high-quality, independent, and financially secure lives should be the main focus and the responsibility of our nation as a whole. Yes, our seniors deserve to enjoy high-quality, financially secure living.
What’s the answer? There’s varying circumstances our seniors live under today: financial security, or lack of; housing; healthcare and much more. That’s why it’s important to confront the vulnerabilities of aging in a strategic way. At CHDC we’re striving to be a part of the solution, but it takes the entire community, city, state and nation to be on one accord in building a strategy. Developing affordable housing, and ensuring they are financially prepared for meeting their day to day expenses, including healthcare, must be at the core of the holistic approach.
More people living longer today represents a huge opportunity for our society as a whole, but changes are needed so more seniors enjoy good health, are financially secure, and are socially and emotionally connected. As we focus on being strategic and PLANNING for our aging adults, we also need to make sure our seniors are a part of the conversation, planning for life today and for future generations.