While aging in place may bring seniors a sense of control, it requires a variety of services and supports to be a successful long-term living arrangement, especially for the oldest and frailest of us. Seeking out and managing most of these essential services requires a support team, money and flexibility among team members to manage a senior’s ever-changing needs.
It is no secret that many seniors are on fixed incomes. Increasingly, older adults also have debt loads from mortgages and medical bills socked away in IRAs and other savings vehicles.
The combination of fixed income and accumulated debt can become overwhelming to a senior wishing to remain at home. Many retirees were able to save for retirement with the strong support of private pension systems, but this generation has not had workplace contributions deducted from their paychecks since the 1980s. In addition, most states’ defined benefit pension plans have either been frozen or eliminated altogether. Younger workers are not eligible for traditional employer-sponsored pensions (which provides monthly payments based upon years worked) through work any longer. Instead they must now rely on Social Security income, which is projected to decline in the years ahead.
This trend of falling incomes and rising debt loads makes home ownership a major financial decision for many seniors. And while some retirees see keeping up with maintenance on their house as a badge of honor (no matter how insurmountable), especially if they bought property before skyrocketing real estate prices, others are compelled to seek out alternatives. This includes moving into multifamily housing or selling an aging home altogether in order to downsize into a more manageable dwelling place.
The senior building boom has been fueled by two groups: empty nesters who are seeking smaller spaces after the kids have left; and people simply ‘aging in place’ – hoping that slowing down won’t be too difficult.