Middle and Low Income Seniors Facing Affordable Housing Shortage

There is a growing need for affordable senior housing. Cities and individuals struggle with this issue. If you have a lot of money, you typically have a lot of options. At the other end of the spectrum, if you have nothing, you can qualify for government assistance. Such assistance, however, may include years of wait times due to lack of available housing. 

A Growing Housing Crisis

Nearly 40% of seniors have less than $50,000 in savings. This is according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies and Harvard University. These seniors are not poor, but they’re not rich, either. Middle income seniors are stuck in the middle. 

As a result, there is a looming senior housing crisis coming. By 2035, one in three households will be headed by someone aged 65 or older. The population aged 80 or older will have doubled to 24 million.

Cities and developers are not creating thoughtfully designed housing for senior adults on a scale that reflects the growing need. Many aging adults don’t want to think about not being able to live in their current home. When asked about their living plans for the future, many seniors say some variant of “the plan is to die in my home.” 

The Future Is Unpredictable

Sadly, it is impossible to know when or how you’ll pass away. You may hope that it will happen gently in your home. However, it is more likely that an adverse event, such as a fall, will change everything. You then will likely require some level of care.

The Social Security Administration estimates that if you turn 65 today, you will live to 84.3 if you are a man, and to 86.6 for women. Added the Social Security Administration: “And those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of ten will live past age 95.” Those longevity numbers represent staggering costs when you consider the likelihood that those oldest years may require significant care.

Housing and Significant Care Is Expensive

That “significant care” costs serious money. According to “A Place for Mom,” the average national cost for a private assisted living facility is almost $4,000 per month. If you want private nursing home care, the cost increases to more than $6,000 per month. Since nearly 50% of adults aged 65 or older have just enough income to afford basic expenses, this creates an up-coming recipe for disaster. 

Significant care such as living in an assisted living facility may require you to spend assets pay for care. That is not a good option for several reasons. First, you will likely run out of assets quickly due to the current costs of care. Second, you would be unable to leave a legacy to your children or loved ones, or to continue to provide for your spouse after you are gone. 

Planning for the Future Is Imperative

That is why the understanding of aging is facing a paradigm shift in thinking. Many companies that design and build for retirement communities want the word “senior” dropped altogether. Innovative technology companies and non-profits are changing the discussion from challenge to opportunity, from health care to health, wellness, and lifestyle, and bringing entrepreneurial ideas to create a positive change. It is a step in the right direction but it does not change the current reality: There is a shortage of affordable senior housing and there is a continuing increase in need for senior residency. 

What is your housing reality and future? Do you have a plan in place to handle the changes that most likely will affect you and your living environment? It is important to have this discussion with your family, and with a professional elder law attorney. Proactive planning is in your best interest. Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

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