The U.S. Census Bureau projects that one out of five people in the country will be retirement age and all baby boomers will be older than 65 by 2030. This means that retirees will outnumber children in the coming decades. As the population ages, the demand for senior living communities will continue to increase.
The picture we paint above comes with a couple of challenges as we learn later in the article. If we don’t take action and move towards change, an aging population will be met with existing issues such as a limited number of facilities in rural areas, expensive options that are out of reach for many a senior person, and the psychological torture of separating senior persons from family.
Aging Baby Boomers
The baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, are currently one of the biggest parts of the U.S. population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 76 million baby boomers were born in America. As they continue to get older, many are choosing to retire. According to Maryville University, the Population Reference Bureau estimates that more than 100 million Americans will be over the age of 65 by 2060.
In the coming years, America must address the growing demand for senior living communities. Planners must seek answers to questions on how infrastructure can adjust to the needs of an aging population among other things. Baby boomers or not, government sectors and the private sector should look into how to avert a rising crisis that is the shortage of senior persons’ housing.
Rising Demand for Housing
A report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University revealed that more than 50 percent of U.S. homes have a head of household who is already 50 or older. They require different types of housing to meet their demands. This report shows that seniors want affordable and accessible housing in communities that are appropriate for their age.
Although there is an increase in adult children living at home, most households that belong to senior citizens do not have kids living with them. Instead, they tend to have either a single person or a couple living on their own. The JCHS report found many seniors in their 50s and 60s do not own their homes and are not ready for retirement. They will require housing that they can afford that will also meet their changing needs.
If you use a senior housing directory or search for facilities by state, it looks like there are many options on the surface. However, dig deeper and you will notice multiple problems. First, the number of options in rural parts of the U.S. is limited. Seniors who may want to live in the country face a small number of choices. Second, many communities and facilities are very expensive. Third, the locations of some communities make it more difficult for aging seniors to see their children and grandchildren who may live in another area.
Seniors also struggle with deciding what type of housing is best for them. The options include assisted living, skilled nursing homes, memory care, senior home care, retirement homes, respite, hospice and others. Healthy people in their 60s may think a simple retirement community is enough, but as they age, they may need more help and will have to move again to a nursing home or another facility.
There is a clear need for resources that educate senior citizens on finding the perfect shelter for their golden age. This, however, doesn’t come before the apparent need to provide adequate and comfortable housing for senior people.
Lack of Support
One of the reasons why senior citizens need their own communities has to do with a lack of support. Some do not have any living relatives left to help them, while others have family members who cannot help them. In either case, they may no longer be able to live on their own without additional support and may not be able to afford a live-in nurse or aide.
Where do seniors who lack family or friends turn to for help in these situations? One place is a senior living community. These communities have amenities that make their lives easier, such as lawn and garden care, snow removal and other services. They often have social activities, buses or valets and emergency call options. There may even be on-site dining options.
Aging in Place
Many seniors want to age in their homes without thinking about the future. Unfortunately, most single-family homes are not suitable for seniors who may develop health problems. They may have stairs that are hard to navigate, lack grab bars or have a poor design that makes falls more likely. Some homes are far from hospitals, stores and other places that seniors need to visit regularly. As people age, they may lose the ability to drive, and public transportation is not always available in every area.
On the other hand, senior living communities allow people to age in place. Most communities are built with the idea that seniors may need more help over time. So they offer independent living, assisted living and memory care options in one community. At each level, seniors can get more care and support without having to move again. They allow people to choose what is best for them at a specific time.
As the number of people over the age of 65 continues to rise, the demand for senior living communities is also going up. Senior citizens want affordable options that give them the support they need. They may not be able to live with family or on their own, so these communities provide an important option. They can continue to have some independence while receiving the care they need.
As long as the senior population keeps growing, the demand for senior living communities will only grow. The best course of action would be to prepare for the demand beforehand, with policies that guarantee senior citizens will not go without comfortable shelter when they need it most.
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