Aging in place is one of key challenges for our communities. It means that we should modify cities in order to make them age-friendly. It is not enough to building some houses for seniors in a quiet isolated area. Two-thirds of Americans say that they want to stay at their homes due to community connections (Scharlach, 2011). They desire to be close to their families and have access to religious, public and commercial services. Therefore, this paper will focus on the ways of adjusting homes to the needs of seniors. It is particularly important to determine how to make houses comfortable and affordable for people. When individuals get older, they have fewer resources to pay for their housing. Besides, they often have health issues and need to be able to use a wheelchair in their accommodation. Homes should also have the appropriate equipment. Nevertheless, our communities have all the opportunities to find solutions to these issues.
The world is constantly getting older. In 2006, 11% of humans were aged sixty and over (World Health Organization, 2007). By 2050, the number of aged population will have been expected to double (World Health Organization, 2007). Therefore, the quantity of older individuals will become bigger than of children. It will happen for the first time in human history. Therefore, cities should make some adjustments to be ready for a new trend. Particular attention to making age-friendly towns should be paid in developing countries. The reason is that more than 80% of the world’s older population will live there (World Health Organization, 2007).
Before discussing housing for older people, it is necessary to define the concept of an age-friendly city, in general. According to the World Health Organization (2007), this town is such one that stimulates individuals of different ages to get older actively by improving possibilities for health, security, efficiency, and involvement in order to enhance the quality of personal and community life. Eight major areas need some improvement. Thus, it is necessary to adjust outdoor spaces, transpiration, and housing as well as provide the appropriate social inclusion and participation, employment, communication and health services.
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Countries have achieved different outcomes in making their cities age-friendly. Nevertheless, even developed countries have much work to do. For example, older Australians still need such changes of housing as hand grab rails, toilet/bath modifications, ramps, wider doors, structural modifications, modified heating, telemonitoring system and remote control (National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, 2012). Old people are not able to deal with these issues on their own. The assistance of communities is necessary. In particular, they could provide financial assistance and consultations. Communities could also find housing options for persons, who agree to move to other places.
Groups and individuals might face a number of challenges preparing housing for the older population. In particular, houses could be too expensive for seniors. This challenge is important because if people do not have enough money to pay for rent, they will lose their homes or have to spend most of their retirement salary on housing. We as society should make housing affordable for the older people. For example, we could provide low-cost public housing and reduce taxes on homes. Some retired people have too big houses, so they cannot afford to pay for them. The potential solution for them is offering other housing options of lower costs. However, these solutions require significant financial resources. Therefore, our society might fail to implement them. Besides, old people might reject to leave their big expensive houses and move to smaller low-cost apartments. Individuals get used to their homes and neighborhood, so moving somewhere else is like losing stability for them.
Another challenge is providing essential services, such as electricity, water, sanitation, and heating. In some cities, these offers are expensive. Therefore, older people have difficulties with paying for such services (National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, 2012). Society might offer discounts for seniors. However, these are the additional expenses for the budget. Moreover, further growing of older population will lead to the situation where most of people do not pay the full costs of essential services. Therefore, our society should try to find the ways of reducing production costs.
In addition, the community should provide an appropriate design (National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, 2012).Older individuals need houses that are made of proper material and have a good structure. They also need spacious bathrooms and passages because many of them use wheelchairs. Doors should be wide. Multi-level accommodations should have an elevator. Besides, such apartments should respond to environmental conditions. It means that houses should have a heating or air-conditioning system. Remote control and telemonitoring system are also important because older people often have health issues. Therefore, their family members or physicians should be able to monitor their health conditions distantly. To address the design issues, the society should consider these requirements before starting to build an accommodation. As for existing buildings, it would be more difficult to modify them because it requires significant resources. However, communities should provide consultations to people that want to adjust their homes as well as offer financial assistance.
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Maintenance is also a challenge for older people because it is expensive and requires them to find appropriate specialists. To address the issue, communities may offer discounts to seniors and help them to find service providers. As for barriers, it would be difficult to find the sufficient amount of reliable providers due to an increasing number of older people. The same happens with money. In addition, developing countries will have a greater proportion of seniors than developed countries. Therefore, it would be hard for them to cover all the expenses. They have many other issues to address.
One more challenge is an access to services especially to religious, public and commercial ones (National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, 2012).The society should locate housing close to proposals and facilities. These services should be affordable; and older people should know about them. Building new houses, societies should consider their requirements too. In case with existing apartments, seniors should be informed about the places where they can receive desired services. Besides, telehealth is a good option for them; particularly, they can receive health care through videoconferencing. Physicians can monitor a patient remotely, so the sick person does not have leave his/her house. Telehealth would allow reducing costs. Barriers for addressing this challenge are a lack of financial resources and absence of enough number of houses close to services.
Focusing on building a multi-level accommodation and improper design might lead to deprivation of family and community connections. In fact, the fear of losing relations and being isolated is one of the reasons why older people do not want to move from their homes (Scharlach, 2011). At a younger age, it is easier to make new connections with people than in older years, so this a real challenge for our society. We could try to build accommodation in such a way that seniors can have more opportunities for communication, social participation, and social inclusion.
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Providing enough amounts of affordable housing options with all the necessary services is also an issue for our society. It is necessary to predict all the needs of the older population. Thus, some of them would need to move to smaller houses, healthcare facilities or seniors’ homes. These housing should not be isolated, which is difficult due to a lack of space in busy parts of cities. Besides, societies should find financial resources and inform seniors about available options. The lack of money is a main barrier that might prevent our community from addressing the challenge.
Finally, societies have to deal with the issue of unsecure overcrowded living environments. Many older adults have to dwell with their families. The reason is that they cannot afford to pay for their accommodation (Scharlach, 2011). As a result, they have a lack of space and privacy. Society might address the challenge by offering affordable housing options. At the same, seniors that live alone feel unsecure. It is necessary to provide them housing security services at affordable prices. Houses should be located away from the areas where natural disasters often happen. As for barriers, it might be difficult to persuade old people to leave their families and dwell alone. Housing security systems will not address all the fears of older adults. Psychological assistance is also necessary.
In conclusion, housing is an essential challenge that our community should address. The main problem is to find financial resources to offer seniors the sufficient number of affordable home options. The quantity of older people will continue to grow, so the challenge might increase. Besides, seniors often have the lack of knowledge about existing opportunities. Therefore, we should inform them about available options. The findings of the research fit the prior literature and theory about further aging of population and a housing issue. Most of researchers agree with the World Health Organization’s idea about creating age-friendly cities. As the duration of people’s life will continue to grow, communities should make some adjustments to meet the needs of seniors.