"Without selling their houses or condominiums, many cannot buy into retirement homes that require a payment of $100,000 to $500,000 just to move in. So they are scratching themselves off waiting lists and staying put, in houses that fit well 30 years ago, but over the years have become lonely, too large or too treacherous to navigate.
Facilities that have watched their waiting lists wither and their occupancy rates fall in the last year are now scrambling to bring people through their doors."
"There is no way to say how many older Americans are in similar straits, as no statistics track how many of America's 4.27 million unsold homes are owned by people 65 or older. But industry groups and administrators at retirement homes call the problem a growing one, which worsened as the financial crisis spread from real estate to lending markets. It has been felt worst in regions hit hardest by the housing bust.
"It remains to be seen whether we have a short-term stress, or whether we're facing a crisis," said Mr. Minnix, of the Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
The problem is playing out acutely in hard-hit areas like Florida, where the vacancy rate at some facilities is up 20 percent to 30 percent over last year, said Paul Williams, director of government relations for the Assisted Living Federation of America"