WASHINGTON—AARP’s new 2021 Home and Community Preferences survey found that while more than three-quarters of adults ages 50 and older want to stay in their homes (77%) and communities (79%) as they age, one-third (33%) also report their houses would need modifications to be able to do so safely and independently. These needs are consistent for adults overall (ages 18+) who wish to stay in their current homes (63%) and communities (67%).
This comes at a time when the number of older adult households is rapidly growing, intensifying the need to provide more accessible and affordable housing options. Households headed by those age 65+ are expected to grow from 34 million to 48 million in the next 20 years.
Of the adults who are caregivers to someone living on their own, nearly half (49%) are concerned about the ability of the person they care for to continue living independently in their home in the future.
According to the survey, adults are interested in updates and options, like home renovations, safe streets, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), to better meet their housing and community needs:
- Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): A majority of adults would live in an ADU or in-law unit to live close to someone but maintain their own space (64%), if they needed help with daily activities (62%) or to save money (52%), while 62% would consider building an ADU on their property for a loved one who needed care, and 54% would for a family member or friend who needed a home.
- Top Renovations and Modernizing Priorities: Key renovations people favor include adding grab bars in bathrooms and having no-step showers (79%), making homes more accessible from the outside as well as inside (71%), installing an emergency response system (61%), and adding Smart Home devices such as a voice activated home assistant or a doorbell camera and smart appliances (48%).
- Relocating: Nearly half of adults (49%) would leave their home to find one that would allow them to age independently. Of those surveyed, 55% would consider leaving their community to find one that is safer, 49% would for a lower cost of living, 48% would for more affordable housing options, and 45% would for better housing choices.
- Livable Communities: A majority report it’s important for their communities to have access to reliable and affordable in-home high-speed Internet (73%), clean water (82%), safe trails to walk, run or bike (62%), and safe, well-lit parks (73%).
New legislation passed this year, the American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, included measures to help adults stay in their homes and communities by expanding high-speed Internet access, improving public transportation, making streets safer, and making housing more affordable. In addition, the Build Back Better Act, which is currently under consideration in Congress, could further address the nation’s housing needs by investing $150 billion in proposed funds to supply more safe, affordable and stable houses for homeowners and renters.
“For decades, AARP has worked with state and local leaders to make cities and towns around the country great places for people of all ages,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the issues many older adults face in their homes and communities. It’s more important than ever that we continue fighting for the essentials that allow Americans to age in place, including affordable housing options, high-speed internet access, reliable transportation, and safe communities.”
AARP and Lowe’s also announced a new initiative yesterday to provide consumers with tips and resources to build, renovate, and update homes to fit their needs now and in the future.
“A significant majority of adults want to continue living in their homes as they age, but the unfortunate reality is that many homes and communities weren’t built to support that desire,” said Rodney Harrell, PhD, AARP Vice President, Family, Home and Community. “As the number of households headed by older adults grows rapidly, there’s an urgent need to provide information and support for how to do renovations and build homes and communities so they better accommodate people of any age and ability.”
To see the full Home and Community Preferences report and methodology, visit www.aarp.org/livablesurvey2021.
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.