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Housing Crisis Looms for Older Americans

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University also sees challenges ahead for housing the country’s growing population of older adults.

For one, affordable, accessible housing in age-friendly communities is in short supply according to its Housing America’s Older Adults 2018, a report that is a supplement to its annual State of the Nation’s Housing Report.

The older segment of baby boomers, who soon will be turning 80, will need more accessible than is currently available. And those now in their 50s and 60s may not have enough money to deal with the one-two punch of rising housing and healthcare costs.

And though aging-in-place is a much discussed and desirable option for all baby boomers and seniors, accessibility becomes a challenge.

The JCHS report notes that difficulty climbing stairs or walking are the most common disabilities and that those mobility problems only increase with age. The current housing stock is ill-prepared to service those with mobility issues, especially people who need a wheelchair.

It cited the latest research from 2011 that showed that only 3.5 percent of U.S. houses had the features – single-floor living, no-step entry, and extra-wide hallways and doors — needed for successful aging-in-place.

Other challenges include a wealth gap between older homeowners and renters and the growing numbers of older adults living in low-density areas with limited transportation options.

“Responding to these challenges will require a coordinated response from the nation’s public, private, and nonprofit actors,” say JCHS.

And for you, the report’s findings may provide an incentive to do some aging-in-place home upgrades now. Before you need them.

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