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Let’s Talk About Aging This Holiday Season

U.S. News & World Report

Thursday, December 24, 2015

One of the joys of the holiday season is being with family and loved ones. Aside from the festivities central to all holiday celebrations, family gatherings also offer opportunities to collectively address important personal challenges. One reality being faced by every family in this country is aging.

It is estimated that the number of Americans aged 65 or older is projected to rise from 40 million in 2010 to nearly 73 million in 2030; those aged 85 or older will increase in number from 5.5 million to nearly 9 million over the same period. According to AARP, 87 percent of seniors wish to remain in their homes and communities as they continue to age. But is this really practical and how will they do so?

Many people will want to stay in their own homes. Unfortunately, most homes lack the necessary structural features (no-step entries; single-floor living; switches and outlets accessible at any height; extra-wide hallways and doors; and lever-style door and faucet handles) that can make independent living into senior years a viable and safe option.

For many others, aging in place will not necessarily mean staying in their own homes but rather moving to another, perhaps smaller, home within their community. However, not all communities offer a full range of choices for seniors that match their aging needs. And even when they do, many communities fail to provide adequate street lighting, accessible sidewalks and transportation options that would make aging in place a realistic choice.