Harvard Report: Home Care to Surge as Population Ages

Within the next decade, the number of Americans 65 and older is going to surge. But as this happens, the demand for housing to accommodate those who wish to age in place will also increase drastically.

By 2035, more than one in five people in the country will be 65 or older, according to a report released today by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

In the coming years, the number of people 65 and older will increase from 48 million to 79 million.

“Researchers have estimated that nearly 70% of older adults will need some form of long-term care in later life, the majority provided in the home but including some time in a skilled nursing facility,” the report said. “In the future the focus of more intensive care may shift more toward the home, the home is already a vital site of long-term care delivery.”

Home modifications are a must

Even though the majority of older adults want to live at home for as long as possible, by 2035, 8.6 million people will be paying more than half their income for housing, and those who qualify for federal rental subsidies will increase by 90% from 2013 to 2035, the report found.

To achieve the goal that many Americans want, both public and private entities will have to work to ensure that home modifications can easily be accomplished but also be affordable.

One requirement that older homeowners will demand to age in place will be universal design at an affordable price, the report says.

“There are a fair number of older adults who have the financial resources to keep up in retirement, but there are more adults with moderate to low funds,” Jen Molinsky, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies and lead author of the report, told Home Health Care News.

In an effort to incentivize and even require universal design in homes, a number of state and local governments created visitability ordinances. These ordinances require all homes not just to be habitable, but also visitable by someone with a mobility device, the report said.

Creative financing options 

Another opportunity the increase in older population will bring is the opportunity to reevaluate how and where care is delivered, Molinsky added.

And the reality for many Americans is that they want to stay put and get the care they may need in their home, but struggle to find the money to do so.

The problem may be especially tough for renters, while those who own their homes might have more options.

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The typical older homeowner has 42 times more wealth than that of the typical older renter, which brings the option of tapping into home equity to help make ends meet in retirement a viable option.

The median monthly cost for a home health aide is $3,813 and the number of months a homeowner would be able to afford the care before his or her wealth is spent down is 27 months, but if the homeowner taps into his or her home equity he or she could afford the care for 68 months, the report said.

Currently, the majority of older adults who receive for long-term care pay out of pocket, but as the aging population skyrockets in the next decade, many older homeowners will need to explore innovative alternatives to make ends meet to be able age in place.

The comprehensive 98-page report also brings up the following topics:

-How obesity, diabetes and arthritis could impact aging baby boomers

-The future of dementia for the aging population

-Trends in the numbers of households with disabilities

Written by Alana Stramowski