Over the next 15 years, the explosive growth of the nation’s senior population will present unprecedented challenges. Unfortunately, millions of Americans will find they lack enough savings to fund their retirements. Some will struggle to afford their housing, while others will find their housing is ill-suited for living independently. Many will eventually need help with the “activities of daily living,” like eating, bathing, and dressing, assistance that can be both costly and taxing on other family members. Most older Americans will suffer from at least one chronic condition.
A successful response will require a much higher level of focus and preparation than exists today in the United States. Experimentation and innovation, as well as a willingness to move beyond established conventions, are essential elements of this process. An ability to see important connections that span across the seemingly disparate disciplines of housing, architecture, health care, information technology, telecommunications, transportation, urban planning, and financial services is critical. Communities across the country must make meeting the needs of their older residents a priority consideration as they plan for the future. This work must proceed apace with the urgency it deserves.
This report examines four specific aspects of the challenge before us:
The need for a much greater supply of homes affordable to our nation’s lowest-income seniors.
The importance of transforming homes and communities so that seniors can age with options, a desire shared by the overwhelming majority of older adults.
The imperative to better integrate health care and supportive services with housing, recognizing that this integration has the potential to improve health outcomes for seniors and reduce the costs borne by the health care system.
The need to deploy technologies on a far wider scale to help all Americans age successfully.
The recommendations outlined below are a call to action by a variety of actors—the Congress, members of the administration, public officials serving in state and local governments, the private sector, and leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities.
The task force recognizes that several of its recommendations propose additional public spending. Nevertheless, the task force believes this additional spending is a necessary and worthwhile investment in the health and well-being of America’s seniors. Other task force recommendations offer the potential to generate savings in health care costs. Achieving the full benefits of the recommendations, including a long-term reduction in federal and state health care expenditures, remains a priority of the task force.