Future Housing & Transportation Uncertain for Older Americans

A new study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation shows that older Americans face an uncertain housing and transportation future, as the number of seniors in the country continues to grow at an increasingly rapid rate.

The study, called "Housing America's Older Adults - Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population," was released this month. It notes that by 2030, the United States will be home to 132 million people 50 years of age or older.

That's an increase of 70 percent from the year 2000.

At the same time, the report notes, "Housing that is affordable, physically accessible, well located and coordinated with supports and services is in too short supply."

Accessibility is a profound need for this segment of the population, as the aging process can result in mobility issues such as decreases in range of motion, strength and stamina.

In addition to being expensive for many seniors, the report says, "Much of the nation's housing inventory also lacks basic accessibility features - such as no-step entries, extra-wide doorways and lever-style door and faucet handles - preventing older persons with disabilities from living safely and comfortably in their homes."

Mobility concerns also extend to transportation.

The study says, "With a majority of older adults aging in car-dependent suburban and rural locations, transportation and pedestrian infrastructure is generally ill suited to those who aren't able to drive, which can isolate them from friends and family."

Much has been written about the Baby Boomer generation, composed of Americans born from 1946 through 1964, and especially those on its leading edge. The first Baby Boomers made headlines when they turned 65 years old in 2011. But the new Harvard University and AARP report turns the spotlight on younger Boomers, who are now in their 50s and still in the workplace.

"With lower incomes, wealth, home ownership rates and more debt than generations before them, members of this large age group may be unable to cover the costs of appropriate housing or long-term care in their retirement years," the report says.

A related infographic showed that homeowners over the age of 65 can typically afford 6.5 years of assisted living or nine years of in-home support. In contrast typical renters in that same age category can afford only two months of those kinds of support.

The study revealed that one in three adults 50 years or older spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, which can force them to cut back on food and healthcare spending. And 37 percent of adults 80 years and older spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing.

To read the entire report, click HERE.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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