weekly blog--one for the ages
With the world’s population getting older and more urban, the needs of older residents will play an increasingly important part in the shaping of cities. Currently more than 700 cities in 39 countries are signed up to the World Health Organization’s global network of age-friendly cities and communities to promote healthy active aging and improve the quality of life for people over 60. Membership doesn’t necessarily denote an age-friendly city, but that it is committed to listening and working with its older population to create one.
One imperative is building new houses or upgrading existing ones to meet the needs of older residents. People approaching old age now tend to be more design-aware than their parents. According to several surveys, Baby Boomers want comfortable living spaces that create lasting impressions. In particular, many boomers want good views to the outdoors, foyers to welcome guests, and kitchens with lots of space for entertaining and storage. They also prefer sunrooms, screen porches, a room for an office or hosting guests, a media wall, gas fireplace, and an art wall.
Not surprisingly, the trend for seniors to age in place has created a glut in the number of senior-housing facilities. The supply of senior housing has soared in recent years. The market has added 84,727 units since the end of 2012, up from 59,136 units during the six years before, according to the nonprofit National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.
However, much of that senior housing hasn’t been needed. Many in the generation born between 1946 to 1964 have remained fitter, more independent or stayed closer to their families than many developers anticipated. And since recent demographic data suggests people tend to move into senior-living facilities after they reach 82 years old—the oldest boomer won’t turn 80 until 2026—many of these facilities have arrived ahead of their time.
The glut also reflects some developers overestimating the number of seniors who can afford these residences, which cost around $3,000 to $8,000 a month. Seniors older than 80 are part of the so-called Silent Generation, which suffered through the Great Depression and World War II. Many remain more frugal and independent and resist moving into group housing, analysts say.