“Aging in place” is one of the current buzz words for independent living, or allowing a person to remain in their own home as they age and become more elderly. Baby boomers are those who were born between 1948 and 1964, and they are rapidly approaching retirement age. As baby boomers age, are communities prepared to handle what will become a large influx of senior (and then elderly) community members?
According to a report by the Aging in Place Initiative, an organization focused on developing livable communities for people of all ages, “only 46 percent of American communities have begun planning to address the needs of the exploding population of aging Baby Boomers.”
Just how much will the aging Boomers population expand? Retirement of baby boomers will “peak in 2030, [and] the number of people over age 65 in the United States will soar to 71.5 million – twice their number in the year 2000- or one in every five Americans.”
The Aging in Place Initiative’s “Maturing of America” study (upon which the report is based) looked at a community’s “readiness” based on the following points:
- whether efforts are being made to assess and put into place programs, policies and services that address the needs of older adults and their caregivers;
- whether cities and counties are able to ensure that their communities are “livable” for all ages – not only good places to grow up but good places to grow old; and
- how well equipped an area is to harness the talent, wisdom and experience of older adults to contribute to the community at large.
The “Maturing of America” study found only 46 percent of communities (which participated in the study) had begun planning to address the needs of the rapidly growing numbers of aging community members. A number much less than the 46 percent would be communities which are actually prepared for an influx of senior residents.
Where does your own community stand with being prepared for its aging community members? What services does it already offer to senior citizens?
Perhaps a more important question is how prepared are you for your own aging or the aging of your loved ones? Look at your own home, or perhaps your parent’s home. Our own home is where each of us is most comfortable, but how accessible will your own home be to you as you continue to age? There are hundreds of thousands of independent living aids which help adapt your home to be more accessible to elderly household members; everything from grab bars around the house to bath lifts can be installed to help home remain accessible for as long as possible.
Consider contacting your community leaders with the “readiness” questions posted above to find out for yourself what resources will be available for yourself and your loved ones as all age in your community. Also consider discussing with family members if their aging, long term care desires include aging in place and independent living options. If you are interested in some of the things needed to help make a home more accessible for aging in place, visit our website at ActiveForever.com or call with your questions to 1-800-377-8033.