Seniors, age 65+, currently make up nearly 17% of the United States population, yet statistics show that cities and communities across the country are not doing nearly enough to accommodate their needs. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, by 2050 the number of Americans aged 65+ is expected to double to 106.8 million from 54.1 million today.
The Washington D.C.-based think tank recently released a report calling for on United States government to start providing seniors the tools, resources and accommodations they need to live comfortably in their retirement years.
One of the greatest needs is for appropriate housing and policies that promote the creation of housing to fit needs of older Americans.
Currently, only 57% of U.S. homes offer more than one design element that is specifically geared to seniors, including no-step entries, single floor living, switches and outlets reachable at any height, extra-wide hallways and doors and lever-style door and faucet handles. What’s more, only 3.8% of homes in the country are suitable for seniors with limited mobility.
The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that one in three seniors experience a fall every year, which can lead to serious injuries or death.
While many may move into independent living facilities or retirement homes with senior-friendly features, the average cost for a room in a nursing home is a costly $6,600/month, according to longtermcare.gov. The high cost of living at one of these facilities can quickly deplete a nest egg that a senior has worked a lifetime to build.
Some seniors attempting to avoid the costs of retirement homes are going so far to add “granny pods.” According to a consumer financial website, ClarkHoward, these pods can range from 299 square feet to 605 square feet and are designed to be built in a caregiver’s backyard. The cost of “granny pods” range anywhere from $39,625 to $61,125 and up and include features such as lighted floorboards, defibrillators and first-aid supplies.