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How Older Baby Boomers Want to Live

by Carol Marak

We’ve all read that the aging boomers want to stay at home as long as possible, and that stills hold true. However, LeadingAge, a non-profit global organization whose mission is to be the trusted voice for aging adults, has found some interesting data about the segment and where they would like to be when and if a physical or cognitive disability should occur.

LeadingAge, through NORC, conducted a survey of older baby boomers to gather insights into how they think about their quality of life if they become physically disabled or cognitively impaired and need long-term services and supports. LTSS includes services that help a person get through a normal day, things like getting out of bed, bathing, eating, toileting, moving around, etc.

They surveyed older boomers to imagine they had a physical or cognitive impairment and needed help. Then we posed questions like: What would be important to them? Where would they want to live? Who would they be comfortable receiving help from?

Asked what would be important if they were in a position of needing help with daily activities, being safe was ranked the most important consideration, higher even than being around family or friends.

The study found that 40% said they would want to live somewhere other than their current home or apartment if they had a physical disability that required them to need help with daily activities. Most earlier studies and surveys report that the majority (76% or more) of adults say they want to stay in their own home. These earlier studies do not target older baby boomers and they do not ask for separate responses depending on whether the impairment is physical or cognitive.

Survey Responses

If help with basic daily living activities is needed, on a scale of 1-10 (10 is most important), how important is it to do the following:

  • Be safe – 9.5
  • Be around family – 8.9
  • Have access to the outdoors – 8.8
  • Be around friends – 8.7
  • Be physically active – 8.6
  • Live in your own home – 8.5
  • Get out on a daily basis – 7.9
  • Have meaningful social activities – 7.8
  • Live in your current community – 7.7
  • Practice my religion – 7.5
  • Make a difference – 6.9
  • Travel – 6.6
  • Work – 5.1


The findings touch lightly on the differences among the older boomers who responded based on income, sex, and age. In the coming months, LeadingAge will be reporting on the findings in more detail and further analyzing their implications for this important aspect of being ready for an aging America.

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