Talk About Aging In Place…

Aging in place for some is the ultimate ideal. Elderly individuals, with their faculties in tact and who are physically sound, stay in the houses where they raised their families and remain in the communities where they have roots, paid taxes, and have an historic reference.

A community with a sound housing policy would ideally provide low- and moderate-income housing for aging seniors on fixed incomes so that they can downsize while remaining in their community. For seniors of greater means, market rate senior housing near town amenities should be an option.

But with the New York Times Saturday reporting that aging in place might, in fact, be a burden, this whole ideal is going out the window.

Welcome to the new economic order. With every passing day, housing values plummet and the level of unsold houses approaches a one-year extent. Older Americans can no longer sell their houses to downsize, never mind downsizing within their own communities. They can’t downsize anywhere, presenting a potentially frightening prospect—people stuck in their homes.

According to The New York Times:

“Facilities that have watched their waiting lists wither and their occupancy rates fall in the last year are now scrambling to bring people through their doors. Some assisted living centers have called in real estate agents to teach prospective residents about online advertising and how to clean and preen their homes for showings. Others have set up programs with banks to provide bridge loans to homeowners, or are discounting apartments and offering low-interest loans.”

“It is part of the hidden problem of the recession,” said Larry Minnix, president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

Talk about aging in place. But in these cases, it’s not by choice.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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