A new report from American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has found that senior homeowners overwhelmingly want to remain in their homes for as long as possible as they age as it is the place feel safest amid the ongoing pandemic.
The survey found that while more than three-quarters of adults ages 50 and older want to stay in their homes (77%) and communities (79%) as they age, one-third (33%) also report their houses would need modifications to be able to do so safely and independently. These needs are consistent for adults overall (ages 18+) who wish to stay in their current homes (63%) and communities (67%).
Of the adults who are caregivers to someone living on their own, nearly half (49%) are concerned about the ability of the person they care for to continue living independently in their home in the future.
This comes at a time when boomers are hitting retirement age, meaning they are on a fixed income, which in turn amplifies the need for additional accessible, affordable housing across the country.
Other things older homeowners are looking for are:
- Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): A majority of adults would live in an ADU or “mother-in-law unit” to live close to someone but maintain their own space (64%), if they needed help with daily activities (62%) or to save money (52%), while 62% would consider building an ADU on their property for a loved one who needed care, and 54% would for a family member or friend who needed a home.
- Top Renovations and Modernizing Priorities: Key renovations people favor include adding grab bars in bathrooms and having no-step showers (79%), making homes more accessible from the outside as well as inside (71%), installing an emergency response system (61%), and adding Smart Home devices such as a voice activated home assistant or a doorbell camera and smart appliances (48%).
- Relocating: Nearly half of adults (49%) would leave their home to find one that would allow them to age independently. Of those surveyed, 55% would consider leaving their community to find one that is safer, 49% would for a lower cost of living, 48% would for more affordable housing options, and 45% would for better housing choices.
- Livable Communities: A majority report it's important for their communities to have access to reliable and affordable in-home high-speed Internet (73%), clean water (82%), safe trails to walk, run or bike (62%), and safe, well-lit parks (73%).
"For decades, AARP has worked with state and local leaders to make cities and towns around the country great places for people of all ages," said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. "COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the issues many older adults face in their homes and communities. It's more important than ever that we continue fighting for the essentials that allow Americans to age in place, including affordable housing options, high-speed internet access, reliable transportation, and safe communities."
AARP and Lowe's, a national home improvement store, also announced a new initiative yesterday to provide consumers with tips and resources to build, renovate, and update homes to fit their needs now and in the future.
"A significant majority of adults want to continue living in their homes as they age, but the unfortunate reality is that many homes and communities weren't built to support that desire," said Rodney Harrell, PhD, AARP Vice President of Family, Home and Community. "As the number of households headed by older adults grows rapidly, there's an urgent need to provide information and support for how to do renovations and build homes and communities so they better accommodate people of any age and ability."