Public-housing authorities across the country are wrestling with meeting the needs of frail seniors in need of supportive housing, where the services that elderly people need to age in place safely, independently and comfortably are readily available. The bad news is that the numbers in need of these services will only grow in coming years, as will the costs. The good news is that a potent, largely untapped resource is close at hand: the seniors themselves.
The challenge is not a minor one. In 2014, Harvard’s Joint Center of Housing Studies released a report chronicling the continued shortage of affordable, accessible and supportive housing confronting the growing number of seniors in need. Adults 65 years and older are projected to represent over 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2040. By that time, long-term-care Medicaid costs for this population are expected to triple from $115 billion in 1997 to $346 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.
What could avert this daunting arithmetic? One promising possibility is the provision of more community supports for the needs of those who are aging in place, including help with such tasks as housekeeping, transportation, grocery shopping, meals and medication management.