Retirement Research: Old Housing, New Needs: Are U.S. Homes Ready for an Aging Population?
Of the 28.5 million households with an older adult, more than one-quarter (28 percent) reported difficulty using some aspect of the home, according to this U.S. Census Bureau report. By far the most common unmet need was households with older adults who reported serious difficulty walking, but the home lacked handrails or grab bars for support. While unmet housing needs pose challenges for older adults, they are especially problematic because they are overrepresented among older households that are poor and economically disadvantaged. This is a population with relatively few resources for home renovations or for relocating to a new home with better aging-accessible features.
In coming decades, the demand for homes with aging-accessible features will rise as Baby Boomers age into older adulthood and the size of the older population grows. The need for aging-accessible homes is one of both health and economics, as fall-related injuries impose costly tolls on older people. Coupled with the growing size of the older population, it is necessary to consider how the functional design of homes may affect older people’s ability to live safely and comfortably.