Recent research from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies outlines the immense challenges facing the growing over-65 population. The group is expected to struggle with rising mortgage debt, costly support services, and a shortage of accessible, affordable housing options.
Here are some facts from the report, Housing America's Older Adults 2023, that paint a daunting picture for seniors:
- In 2021, an all-time high of nearly 11.2 million older adults spent more than 30% of their income on housing.
- Fewer than 4% of U.S. homes were accessible and featured single-floor living, no-step entries, and wide hallways and doorways.
- Caregiving is costly and in short supply. For example, long-term care services average over $100 per day, and when those costs are added to housing costs, only 14% of single people aged 75 and over can afford daily visits from a paid caregiver. Just 13% can afford to move to an assisted living facility.
- Though accessibility modification programs exist, income limits and lack of awareness limit their impact.
- Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and cohousing may solve some challenges, but local zoning laws often discourage them. Also, the "Village" model, a neighbor-to-neighbor network offering services like transportation, tech support, home repairs, and social events, helps with aging in the community. However, more communities need to adopt the model.
- Climate change affects older adults, particularly those in spots vulnerable to significant weather-related damage like wildfires and hurricanes. Plus, insurers are pulling out or raising rates in such areas. Home upgrades like more efficient insulation, storm shutters, and fire-resistant roofs can lower risks. Still, older adults may need help—physical and financial—making improvements to adapt to climate-related dangers.