Durham Home Care News: Senior Housing in Crisis?

March 30, 2017 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Home care for the elderly is a growing concern as baby boomers reach retirement age. Many older adults would like to grow old in their own home. They do not want to move to retirement communities that seem to cater to either the very wealthy or low income seniors.

The over 65 population is expected to grow to 79 million from 48 million in the next 20 years. By 2035, one in three households will be headed by someone 65 or older and approximately 9.3 million will be one person households. This demographic shift will see a huge need for safe, affordable housing that offers access to services. Currently, it is beyond what supply can meet.
In addition, many seniors live where a car is needed to travel to the store or doctor and do not have access to public transportation.

Thoughtfully designed housing for older adults is not being created to account for the growing need. Most communities are designed for single family homes and are not zoned for for non-single housing or multiunit complexes for seniors. Many seniors start to feel isolated, unable to do basic errands or to keep up their property. Cities offer plenty of naturally occurring retirement communities, but the more suburban areas have not welcomed the this concept. Many of todays developers are focusing on millennials that prefer transit, walkability and amenities at their doorstep. It may be time for communities to embrace multiple generations with multi-unit housing for seniors within family communities. Some initiatives have matched college students with elderly that have rooms to spare while others are building homes to accommodate multiple generations.

Technology can also offer some solutions for the aging demographic. Many seniors can use Uber or Lyft to access transportation, but often the smartphones and apps prove to be difficult to use for many seniors with declining motor skills and vision. Delivery services for meals, groceries and medicine can help as well. Homes need to provide senior friendly accommodations such as ranch level homes without steps, halls and doorways that are wide enough for wheelchairs and single floor living with the master on the first floor with convenient bathrooms.

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