Senior Impact On Housing And Caregiving

Written by Hiland - Senior Lifestyle Expert on Friday, July 08, 2016

A recent study completed by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and another by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reveal senior living trends that will have profound impacts upon senior housing and senior caregiving. As a senior who recognizes the shifting senior living landscape and tries to strategize best solutions for our changing health needs against our desired lifestyle, the statistics are intimidating but not unexpected.

In a nutshell, we’re not as young as we used to be and not as healthy as when we figured where and how we would live out and enjoy our senior years. To complicate things further, our offspring are amazingly mobile and have chosen entirely different lifestyles than we could have imagined 20 years ago.

The only way for us to see more of our children and grandchildren is to move closer to where they reside. But, where they reside today may very well not be where they will reside tomorrow. So, we have tried to reside where we thought they would visit us in their spare time. Good luck with that!

Harvard and Aging in Place

The Harvard Study indicates that today’s healthy and active seniors will “drive the addition of more than 13 million households from 2015 to 2025.” This phenomenal growth surge is inspired by the wishes of 21st century seniors to age in place.

It seems analysts anticipated that today’s seniors would retire to independent or assisted living communities but 21 st century seniors have worked longer and been more active than previous generations and have every intention of aging in place and living independently for as long as possible. This trend has caused a hiccup for the housing industry.

One byproduct of aging in place is that supply of single family homes has not kept pace with demand. Therefore, home prices are climbing. Harvard found that much of the growth in the housing sector will be attributed to the number of households with residents aged 70 or more. In 2015, this demographic accounted for about 16 percent of the market. But, by 2025, the number of 70-year households will increase to 21 percent or more!

The Harvard reports concludes: “The aging population will have profound impacts on housing demand.” The demand for remodeling of existing homes and other accommodating projects will increase significantly.

Pressure on Caregivers

In the last ten years, demand for renter households aged 70 or more has increased by more than 600,000 units. With more and more seniors choosing to age in place, there will be “a significant increase in the need for in-home healthcare and supportive services.”

Jennifer Wolff of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health  explained the fact that 14.7 million family caregivers presently provide aid to 7.7 million older adults as follows: “There is no silver bullet easy solution to simplify the management of meeting complex care needs – this is an issue that is experienced by individuals but is the result of the fragmented and complex health care system and long-term care system that families often are left navigating without any formal preparation.”

According to Wolff, 6.5 million family and unpaid caregivers presently assist seniors living in place. 4.4 million of those caregivers offer varying degrees of assistance but 3.8 million are unable to provide any health care assistance. Today’s “fragmented and complex health care system and long-term care system” often leaves families trying to help without formal training.

The Harvard University and Johns Hopkins studies point to the need for seniors and their families to engage long-term planning and caregiving strategies that make sense logistically and financially. It is more important than ever to fully understand the implications of aging in place as opposed to aging in senior living communities.

There are many factors, including safety and quality of care that must enter into this decision. As we have discovered, the time to start planning for senior living accommodations was yesterday.