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Boomers Shaping Housing in the U.S.
As in so many things today, boomers are having a major impact on the housing market. The National Association of Home Builders expects the number of single-family housing starts in 55+ communities to increase by 22 percent this year and an additional 20 percent in 2014. This uptick in new buildings is happening because boomers are feeling more confident in their local market conditions and are able to sell their existing homes at reasonable prices, allowing them to downsize or relocate near their children. This article lists the community amenities that are most highly sought include garden plots, walking/jogging trails, outdoor pools, and public transportation. To learn more about what boomers are seeking, click here.
Who Can Solve Boomer Issues? Boomers
This article poses the question: How can boomers, who are reaching 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day, help solve the problem of affordable housing for the ever increasing number of older adults that will make up 20% of the population by 2030? The question is really, how will boomers help themselves reach old age with the possibility of high quality, publicly-financed housing available? Boomers have political power (through sheer numbers), wealth, and a good reason to work toward that goal for the millions who won't be able to afford assisted living and other high-end options. Keep reading to learn about why this might be a good idea...sluggish economy and all.
For the person who is facing a move and needs to downsize or for anyone who has reached the point where there is just too much "stuff" in their lives, this article will speak to you...and provide tips on how to make real progress in changing the way you live. A motivational speaker quoted in the article talks about expanding the definition of "tchotchkes," a Yiddish word for knicknacks, to mean "stuff that gets out of control" and can be anything, mental or physical, that is unneeded or unwanted (examples might be electronic equipment, people who are an emotional drain and don't bring joy, or gifts that you never liked from people you do.)
Old Hippies Returning to Communes
In the 1960s and 70s, living on a commune was a cool thing to do...for awhile. By the 80s, most had moved out of these "intentional communities" -- artists' collectives, religious communes, or self-help oriented communes -- got jobs and started anew. This Atlantic Monthly article follows one woman back to The Farm in Tennessee where she gave birth to her first child at 16 and is finalizing her return to the place she has always considered home. She is among a number of "hippies" taking the road back to a community that meets their needs again at this later stage in their lives.
The "Village" People
The "village" concept is a growing movement among older adults determined to stay in their homes. The idea of "aging in place" is not new, but what the 65 active villages offer are the perks that residents of retirement and assisted-living communities receive primarily from volunteers. Rides to the doctor or grocery store, someone to do repairs, personal care, and more. The downsides include keeping them financially viable and serving those outside cities. Philadelphia's villages are: Penn's Village (pennsvillage.org) in Center City and East Falls Village (215-438-7479). They'd be happy to share what it takes to be a "village!"
Brave Old World
And if you are ready to move... this New York Times post highlights ElderSpirit, one of four existing examples in the country of a senior (not multi-generational) "co-housing" or intentional community built exclusively for this use. An eclectic group of 44 older adults, hailing from 15 states, moved to Appalachia. The majority of residents are over 70. They see the community as a low-cost alternative where they can remain independent, share weekly meals with neighbors, and help each other. Most are thriving, but have been relatively free of critical health issues and dementia. Check out the fascinating videos by fellows at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism focused on the issues of aging.
Living Large in Jacksonville
So where are boomers settling as they enter their golden years? Are they moving to the bustling, arts and culture rich cities? Not according to this Forbes article that cites 2010 Census data about the whereabouts of those 55 to 64 year. If people are moving, it is to the low-density Sunbelt metros on this top ten list. But, by far the biggest trend among boomers at this age is not to move at all. Maybe they are staying at home because many are still working full-time, the economy is unstable, and/or grown children are returning. Read the next article for what some in the older set are considering...
Downsizing...and Raising Some Cash
As boomers consider leaving their homes for smaller spaces, one of the most formidable tasks is figuring out what to do with all their "stuff." For years, Americans have been gathering and collecting at an amazing pace, filling homes that over the past half-century have more than doubled in size. And even that hasn't been enough to contain our nation's overflow of furniture, knick-knacks, antiques and kitsch. With some 8,000 Americans turning 65 every day, millions are facing a massive purge. And many don't want to just give away their treasures...after all, this "stuff" is valuable!
"The Talk" with the Parents
No, it's not that talk! But, this one may be even harder. It's the often dreaded discussion about what your parents should do when they can no longer live on their own. This article states that 42% of adults between ages 45 and 65 cite the topic as the most difficult one to discuss with their parents. And about a third said their biggest communication obstacle is getting stuck in the parent-child roles of the past. To find out how to be prepared for this sticky issue, click here.
Senior Village Movement
If you want to remain in your community as you age, you'll be pleased to read about another growing movement. "Village" programs that provide a range of low-cost home, medical, shopping, and social services to older adults are becoming more available throughout the country. And there are hundreds of other organized efforts to provide services to older residents in "naturally occurring retirement communities." Their common goal is to help people stay in their homes through their 70s and 80s and, in a growing number of cases, into their 90s. To learn more about "aging in place", click here.