ORLANDO, Fla. – There’s a disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to “aging in place,” a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey found.
The Census study analyzed older adults’ housing needs and identified 37 million older-adult households in the U.S. The study reported that 1 in 10 (11%) of these households face some kind of difficulty living in their current home – a number that rises to 24% for the oldest adults.
The report, Aging-Ready Homes in the United States–Perception Versus Reality of Aging-Accessibility Needs: 2019, found that home accessibility varied by region.
Older households in the South Atlantic division, which includes Florida, were more likely to report critical difficulty compared with the national average. Meanwhile, older households in New England and the West North Central divisions were less likely to do so.
There’s also a breakdown in homeowner perceptions, according to the report, with many owners saying their home is equipped for contented aging in place. However, they also reported some basic features missing, such as a step-free entryway and a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor.
In many cases, older adults have little choice: Many cannot afford to upgrade their homes to make it easier to age in place, particularly where the stock of homes is old and requires more extensive renovations, such as in the Northeast.
The study noted that “given the risks and long-term consequences of fall-related injuries, it is economically and health-imperative to consider the ability of older adults to age safely and comfortably in their homes.”
The Census Bureau report concluded that the U.S. needs more aging-in-place homes over the next few decades.