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Growing Old at Home

Changing demographics and preferences in eldercare have millions planning to age in place, this will have big implications for our communities and our policy makers.
January 6, 2017, 8am PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Wheelchair accessible home

A new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies shows the changing state of America's aging community, both in terms of demographics and where people intend to age. "By 2035, one in three U.S. households, versus today’s one in five, will be headed by someone 65 or older," according to reporting from Mimi Kirk in CityLab. To add to that demographic reality, "By 2035, the number of households with a person with a disability will reach more than 31 million—an increase of 76 percent over current numbers," Kirk writes. But, while it may be easy to make these plans, it's harder to execute them: "… only 1 percent of housing stock is currently equipped with no-step entrances, single-floor living, wide halls and doorways to allow a wheelchair, electrical controls reachable from a wheelchair, and lever-style handles on faucets and doors," Kirk writes.

The lead author of the report, Jennifer Molinsky says issues don't stop at outfitting the home for possible impairment, “Even though many people express a desire to age in place, doing so can be isolating without ways to connect with the surrounding community,” Molinsky says. This is a tricky issue, but Molinsky says living in walkable areas may help dispel the isolation. "Constructing new housing in more central areas, such as in downtown suburban centers, could also help with isolation," Molinsky told Kirk.

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Published on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 in CityLab
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