Aging in Place Solutions for Suburban Older Adults
Baby boomers begin to retire in large numbers. Their kids are adults and have lives of their own. The boomer contends with stairs, home maintenance, mowing lawns, and worrying about movability as driving becomes a nuisance. The graying of America will force the service industries to ramp up for needed solutions. Aging in Place Solutions for Suburban Older Adults
Over 49 million older Americans face the dilemma. Some will seek rentals in the urban district, while many will stay in the home they love planted in the suburbs. For those opting to age in place, the service industry must adapt and supply transportation, affordable housing, healthcare services, personal care options, and home maintenance choices to help meet the growing needs.
There are many unanswered questions and more hidden ones that need tackling as the boomer segment grows older with the desire to stay put. City officials, developers, and business leaders seem to forget about the suburbia residents. Governments and thought leaders focus instead on answering the demands of the urban society, not those tucked away in the sprawl.
Even investors, financial establishments and healthcare suppliers must magnify their thinking about the evolving needs of older Americans stuck in the outlying areas. They must recognize that seniors have urgent needs as they lose independence.
To help get the ball rolling on ideas that business leaders and government officials can chew on, I’ve asked several members of the Seniorcare.com Aging Council to offer up concepts that could solve the dire needs. The question posed to the experts,
“Adults want to age at home, and it’s particularly difficult for those living alone. What services would better meet the needs of senior couples and singles than what’s available today?”
Communities need to recognize the opportunity; there are many ways small businesses can help. Grocery delivery, driving services, house cleaning and the shared economy can make this more accessible and affordable. We created a falls prevention coalition locally; this is an excellent way to educate (and provide resources) about the risk of falls, one of the fastest ways to derail plans to age at home. AgingWisely.com.
Another service that’s required is meal delivery for the senior without family support or other help. Adult day cares, family caregiver support for respite care, and regular wellness checks can be significant for older persons who remain at home. Updating homes to provide wheelchair ramps and widened doorways can be helpful. Senior-Planning.com.
Consider adopting the Village Model, which is a growing movement in the U.S., defined as a neighbor-to-neighbor system providing services such as transportation, home repairs, coordinating access to health and wellness, and planned social events. They’re designed to help older adults age in place in their homes and neighborhoods. Founded in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston, there are now 205 Villages across the country and another 150 in development. CapitolConsultingLLC.com.
Living alone as you age is difficult, and providing companionship can be a big help. Local community residents could assist seniors in everyday tasks like grocery shopping, driving, and lawn mowing. Also, local city units could prioritize a community’s safety ordinance by ensuring safe sidewalks and create reliable, secure, and efficient public transportation. ALTCP.org.
Provide free or low-cost home helpers to do simple repairs like changing light bulbs that are up high, fixing broken locks and doors, and more home maintenance needs. SandwichINK.com.
We have seen examples across the country who are helping seniors who are aging in place including creating more livable communities. Suburban residents who form collaboratives to care for each other, help with home maintenance, friends encouraging socialization and giving help when assistance is needed are filling the gaps for those aging alone. SeniorCareCorner.com.
Deliver more services geared to ride sharing and ride services which are an extremely significant support for the enhancement of socialization and shopping. HouseHoldGuardians.com.
Think “Depot,” fed by transportation (Uber, Lyft-types). Inbound: hub for services (a Third Place, recreation, day services, legal/financial/medical connections, lectures and classes, places to meet with professionals and friends. Outbound: hub from which could emanate telemedicine and outbound delivery (Uber and Lyft is now working with Walmart for grocery delivery), home health and case management. NavigateNC.com.
Starting a dialogue in your community perhaps beginning by partnering with existing programs like the neighborhood association and the Area Office on Aging. Most of the time individuals are aware of the elderly couple in the neighborhood, but there may be apprehension on both ends about reaching out. Associations and AOA’s are trusted organizations that could work together to start a conversation. CaregiverSupportServices.com.
Build NORCs, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, today they’re found in urban areas where seniors congregate, and the services came to them. We now need to do the same in the suburbs. But key will be transport issues. Because even if the services are close by, unlike an urban area where you can walk to them, you will need delivery to access them. TheAgingExperience.com.