“The Case for Age-Friendly Suburbs
Several trends are conspiring to challenge America’s ability to house and care for its senior citizens. Utilizing successful examples, architect and planner Eric C.Y. Fang examines how the suburbs can be adapted to support an aging population.
Eric C.Y. Fang. April 5, 2013
America’s established framework for housing and caring for its senior citizens addresses a range of needs, from those with independent and active lifestyles to those requiring more intensive levels of care. What each of these models has traditionally had in common is they are typically housed in discrete, standalone facilities with an extensive – and expensive – array of on-site services. The focus is on services and amenities, rather than place.
Despite the demonstrated success of this framework, several trends may challenge its ability to continue as the dominant paradigm for housing America’s senior citizens. The first is the sheer number of people poised to cross the threshold into retirement age. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the anticipated tide of Baby Boomer retirees will double America’s senior population by 2030, increasing its ranks by 35 million [PDF]. The changing lifestyle preferences of seniors will also play a role, as increasing numbers continue working into their 70s and living in their own homes. Finally, the drop in property values resulting from the Great Recession has significantly impacted the retirement choices available. Together, these developments have begun to reverberate in how seniors choose to live, with a dramatic drop in the migration to Sunbelt states, and an increase in the average age of those moving into assisted-living facilities. The need for a greater range of attractive living options for this rapidly growing age cohort has never been more apparent.”
Photo: Eric Fang