As the population of older adults grows, the need for elder-friendly housing and communities that encourage self-reliance and support independence becomes increasingly important.
If you’re like the majority of older adults, you plan to continue to live in your own home as you age. In many cases, simple home modifications can make it possible for you to stay in your home. Grab-bars in bathrooms, ramps that help you navigate stairs, and better lighting can make a tremendous difference. But sustaining a large population of older adults within the community will also require policy-based changes in housing and transportation and in the type of social services provided.
This trend of aging in the community can be good for everyone. Older people benefit from maintaining lifelong connections and communities have increased incentive to build multigenerational environments that are nurturing and sustainable for people of all ages.
Many communities provide continuum of care systems for people as they move through stages of aging—from senior housing to assisted living to housing and skilled nursing homes for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
The location of housing makes a difference. Housing adjacent to the centers of neighborhoods allows residents to walk to stores and other amenities in their neighborhoods. Housing adjacent to the campus of a university that provides education to older adults allows easy access to opportunities for learning. And housing adjacent to transit dramatically expands mobility for older adults.
If you live with a disability, new technologies can help you remain in your home or otherwise live independently. Alternative transportation systems, often staffed by older, adult volunteers, provide door-to-door mobility.
Isolation can be a problem for some older people who remain in their homes. Alternative housing arrangements allow you to maintain your independence and quality of life without doing everything yourself. Shared ownership offers the benefits of ownership while reducing costs, balancing responsibilities, and increasing companionship. Homeshare International helps older adults make compatible living arrangements.
The Aging in Place Initiative, a joint effort of the Partners for Livable Communities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, is one effort working to develop aging-friendly communities.
Page Author: Jan Hively
This section includes the following pages:
- Making a house a lifelong home
Goldstein Museum exhibit offers insights for adapting your home - A Goldstein exhibit addresses questions about home modifications that can make it easier for people to age in place.
- Cut Your Energy Bills
You can save $1,500 with these four strategies - Even if you've already switched to compact fluorescent bulbs and retired the refrigerator in the basement, there's more you can do.
Check our Additional Resources for more information