The old standard of retiring and shuffling off to a retirement community is being re-written by baby boomers who want to enjoy their homes, embrace their communities, and age in place as long as they can. By renovating their homes, engaging in the “Village” model, and finding innovative solutions like the Golden Girls Network’s Home Companion program, it’s now possible for baby boomers to stay in their homes longer.
Only 7 percent of retirees have moved into a retirement community, according to a 2015 study, and 85 percent of retirees hope that when the time comes for long-term care, they can receive it at home. Why is aging in place more attractive to baby boomers than seeking the kinship and services of a retirement community?
- Two-thirds of retirees say they are living in the best home of their lives. With work and family obligations no longer weighing on them, retirees have more freedom to choose the home and location that meets their wants instead of their needs.
- Many retirees want to use their free time to re-connect with their communities and a majority of them (67 percent) want that community to be diverse in age rather than homogenous.
- With family members living in different parts of the country, half of retirees are keeping their larger homes instead of downsizing to make it possible to welcome family back for vacations and holidays.
And to make staying in their homes more feasible, retirees are developing creative solutions.
Home modification for aging in place is the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry, according to the National Association of Home Builders. 55+ households account for half of all home renovation spending. Many retirees are interested in making investments in technology – such as apps that control appliances, health sensors, and cleaning robots – that make their homes safer and easier to maintain. The NAHB provides a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation to builders who have received education on the topic, and the AARP has a HomeFit Guide to guide homeowners through the process of making their home age-in-place ready.
The “Village” Model
Neighbors Network – serving Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville, and other communities north of Orlando, Florida – is one example of the “Village” model, which involves coordinating volunteers to help with the inside-and-outside of the home tasks that might become difficult as a person ages. Minor home repairs, picking up and returning library books, and friendly visits are all benefits of becoming a member of Neighbors Network. They also provide access to paid professionals for services the Network can’t provide. The first “Village” – also known as virtual retirement community – was established in Boston in 2002, and the Village-to-Village Network helps to establish and manage models of it throughout the country.
Golden Girls Network
One of our goals at Golden Girls Network has always been helping people 50+ stay in their homes by matching them with like-minded housemates who can share expenses and provide companionship. Our Home Companion program will take our assistance to those who wish to age in place a step further. Managed by our soon-to-be-established Golden Girls Foundation, this program will match older Golden Girls with housemates who, in exchange for reduced rent, will handle household duties the homeowner is no longer able to handle on her own. This is not a replacement for a home health agency, but rather a great complement that allows women (or men!) to stay in their homes longer.