Housing Options for the Elderly

August 6, 1982

Report Outline
Challenges and Opportunities
Non-Institutional Options
Economic and Social Issues
Special Focus

Challenges and Opportunities

Increased Demand, Greater Alternatives

Many families today must face the difficult decision of how to help care for elderly parents or other relatives. But choices are no longer limited to nursing homes or living together under one roof. Older Americans have more housing options than ever before. Contrary to popular belief, only 5 percent of those over 65 live in nursing homes, while 70 percent own their own homes. Others select “continuing care” communities where they live independently with the assurance that all health needs will be taken care of in the future. Those who can afford it often opt for the social/recreational lifestyle found in the retirement havens that have sprung up in the western and southern states.

Choosing where to live is not always a simple matter of preference, however, because of health needs, income limitations and the supply of housing. Innovative living arrangements are emerging as more elderly persons move in with their families or non-relatives to cut down on housing costs and maintain independence. Options include building apartments within existing homes, renting individual rooms or purchasing a separate unit known as an elder cottage or “granny flat.” Home and health support services and adult day-care programs help keep more dependent elderly in their own homes or living with family members. Federal projects provide affordable housing for some low-income elderly.

Retirement living is an issue of growing importance. The number of older Americans is rapidly increasing and is expected to grow from 11 percent of the population in 1980 to a projected 20.4 percent by 2030. By comparison, the elderly comprised only 4 percent of the population in 1900. Estimates of the number of elderly living in substandard housing run as high as 30 percent. Budget constraints are forcing a reconsideration of federal housing and other support programs. Elderly homeowners are finding it increasingly difficult to manage the costs of big, older homes. The rental shortage is intensifying.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Older Americans and Senior Citizens
Jun. 07, 2019  The Retirement Crunch
Sep. 30, 2011  Prolonging Life
Mar. 15, 2011  The Graying Planet
Oct. 13, 2006  Caring for the Elderly
Feb. 20, 1998  Caring For the Elderly
Aug. 01, 1997  Age Discrimination
Dec. 06, 1991  Retiree Health Benefits
Aug. 19, 1988  The Elderly in an Aging America
Nov. 21, 1986  Home Health Care
Aug. 06, 1982  Housing Options for the Elderly
Nov. 10, 1971  Plight of the Aged
Nov. 06, 1963  Nursing Homes and Medical Care
May 20, 1959  Housing for the Elderly
Sep. 04, 1957  Health of the Aged
Aug. 01, 1949  Older People
Mar. 29, 1938  The Job Problem for Older Workers
Civil Rights: Senior Citizens
Fair Housing and Housing for Special Groups