There is a growing need for affordable senior housing that is only starting to be addressed by businesses that build for this market. 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 though programs such as Medi-Cal for nursing home care or Veterans Pension Benefits for eligible veterans or spouses of veterans to assist with assisted living expenses. The truth is many seniors, nearly 40%, have less than $50,000 in savings, not including the value of their homes, according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies and Harvard University. That doesn’t make them poor but it doesn’t make them rich either. Middle income seniors are stuck in the middle and the statistics are indicative of a looming senior housing crisis. By 2035 one in three households will be headed by someone aged sixty-five or more years and the population aged eighty or more years will have doubled to 24 million. Wow, I’ll be part of that 24 million!
The truth is that thoughtfully designed housing for senior adults (those us 60 and older) is not being created on a scale that reflects the growing need and the need is significant and becoming more urgent. Most aging adults, including me, don’t even want to project that one day they will no longer be able to live in their current home. When asked about their forward living plans it usually consists of some variant of “the plan is to die in my home.” Sadly, it is impossible to script your passing and while you might hope it happens gently in your home it is more likely that an adverse event, such as a fall, will change everything and you will 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 SSA: “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.” (https://www.thestreet.com/story/13640644/1/inside-the-nation-s-looming-senior-housing-crisis.html) Those numbers of longevity represent staggering costs when you consider the likelihood that those oldest years will require the most significant care.
That “significant care” costs serious money. According to “A Place for Mom,” the average national cost for a private assisted living facility (ALF) is almost $4,000 per month. Based upon what my clients are telling me, its between $2,500 to $6,000 depending upon the level of services and facility. If you want private nursing home care that cost increases to more than $6,000 per month, depending on where you live. My clients who remain at home and need nursing care 24 hours per day are paying between $10,000 to $13,000 per month. If you compare these costs with the fact that nearly 50% of adults aged sixty-five or older have just enough income to afford basic expenses, it becmes obvious that is a recipe for disaster. The only thing left is 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 children or continue to provide for a spouse after you are gone.
That is why the understanding of aging is facing a paradigm shift – many companies that design and build for retirement communities want the word “senior” dropped altogether. Innovative technology companies and non-profits are sounding the alarm and 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. Ignoring the issue is not an option. Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.