With the first of the 78 million Baby Boomers already reaching age 65 in 2011 and more on the way, the nation’s housing system will require new approaches to meet the “aging in place” demand of this swelling population.
Staying in one’s home not only reflects a “financially sensible housing option” for many seniors, but also helps give meaning to one’s life, says former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Henry Cisneros in an op-ed for The Miami Herald.
While many will want to stay at home in their old age, the designs of current homes do not make this option available to everyone, says Cisneros, who is now a co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission.
“Likewise, many of our nation’s communities fail to provide the services and amenities that would make aging in place a realistic choice,” Cisneros says in the article.
Because of this, he urges the nation to think about how current homes can accommodate not only the desires to age in place, but also the long-term care needs of an aging population.
Achieving this will rely on the federal government, he says, specifically on a joint effort of agencies like HUD and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to remove barriers to creating housing platforms that address the population’s needs.
Cisneros even suggests that reverse mortgages can be “sensible options” to helping older Americans successfully age in place. However, he continues, the federal government must work to ensure that seniors receive effective guidance before using financial products such as these.
“What is perhaps most important is a greater public focus on the housing needs of our nation’s seniors whose numbers grow each year,” says Cisneros.
Written by Jason Oliva