Aging In Place: How To Prevent A New Health Crisis

By 2035, for the first time ever, there will be more people living in the US over the age of 65 than there will be under the age of 18.

Let that sink in. 

Even by 2030, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. And in certain states, such as Florida, Maine, and New Mexico, around 25% of the population will be over 65.

And with the average life expectancy rate to soar, we must consider what this means for housing, and healthcare needs both now and in the future.

For the past 70 years, the real estate and city-building industry has been predominantly occupied trying to meet the needs of families with children. With such a singular focus, there has been an increase in the number of single-family detached homes that are separated from centers of commerce or industry.

Mainly, the boom of the suburbs has created an issue that should be addressed now.

That’s because the overwhelming majority of older adults would like to “age in place.” In fact, 90% of adults over the age of 65 want to stay in their homes and communities. 

Aging In Place: More healthcare than housing

This is understandable – after all, people want to stay close to their children and grandchildren, their friends, and their community.

However, new research has shown that aging in place is more than nice-to-have. Loneliness has been identified as just as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

With new data emerging daily on the risks of loneliness on the psychological and physical wellbeing of older adults, it’s time to address the reality: modern living will not meet our aging population’s needs.

AARP is already actively working on a solution to this problem. 

Preparation for aging in place should be considered sooner rather than later. Small home renovations can be installed and prepared now so that they’re on hand when they’re needed – rather than responding to an emergency.

Aging Is A State of Mind

The same can be said with considering local amenities and the availability of in-home care and assisted living functionality for seniors. 

However, AARP has been quick to stress that there is a limited amount that individuals can do by themselves. Instead, they are driving awareness that an overhaul of the current community building is needed to meet future needs.

The best news is that this may not be as challenging as it sounds. Older adults are looking for many of the same things in their neighborhoods that attract younger adults: shorter commutes, proximity to stores and services, diversity of homes and incomes, and a strong public transport network.

So to address the concerns of those who’ll be over the age of 65 in 2030, it’s time to address the needs of those who are under 35 now. By establishing these communities now, it’s possible to proactively work against the damages caused by social isolation and loneliness.