“While I had tried to save for retirement
, I never understood the cost of aging.” This statement was made by Susan, a 60-year-old widow in Bellingham, Washington. She has an annual income of $11,000 (Western Washington University, 2017). When looking at the skyrocketing fees required for senior housing and care, what is someone like Susan supposed to do? The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (2014) explains how these growing expenses are partially due to the large numbers of baby boomers now in retirement. This increase has strained federal funds that go towards Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2014). With rapidly growing needs for an aging population, communities across the country are scrambling to create effective solutions for seniors with varying needs, resources, and interests
SENIOR HOUSING ASSESMENT
There has been a variety of housing options
available to seniors for some time now, but not sufficient enough to meet the magnitude of need. Kang et al (2016) wrote that it is estimated that by 2030 there will be 70 million people above age 65 in the United States, comprising 20% of the total population (Kang et al, 2016). So, what is the first step in addressing the current changes and gaps for this steadily growing group? People must first conduct thorough analyses of individual situations and within neighborhoods and communities. What financial resources do people have? What social connections or family ties do people have? What passions, interests, and worldviews drive these people? What needs and services can the community provide for seniors and what needs and services can seniors give back to the community?
University (2017) conducted such an analysis, assessing Susan’s needs, desires, goals, and challenges. Susan wanted stability, affordability, social support, independence, a sense of purpose through giving back to the community, to exercise regularly, to eat healthy, and to stay mentally sharp. Susan lost her husband and struggled with debt and depression. Life and aging change both the physical and emotional needs that people have. People become more fragile with increasing medical requirements, and they may also lose family and friends becoming more fragile emotionally. Times and circumstances change and things planned for long ago may not properly match the current situations people find themselves in, like in Susan’s case. Communities are exploring various solutions to meet such needs (Western Washington University, 2017).
Traywick (2007) postulated that “successful aging takes planning.” However, it is hard to plan for the future with its unknown realities and opportunities. For decades now, most communities have had housing options for seniors such as retirement homes, apartments reserved for seniors only, communities of manufactured homes, group housing, low income housing, assisted living, nursing homes, in-home caregivers, Alzheimer’s residential care facilities
, and more. However, even though this list is quite long, there are not enough of these facilities or services that are available and obtainable for the seniors in our country (Traywick, 2007). What is the best way to meet this growing need?