Aging In Place Statistics

Updated:

An older couple sitting on the porch in rocking chairs

As they grow older, an overwhelming share of Americans hope to age in place, continuing to live safely and independently in their own homes. 

In the long run, this practice can reap benefits for an individual — helping to avoid the high costs of a nursing home or other institutional care, maintaining independence and social connections, and continuing life in a familiar environment. 

For many Americans, barriers exist that may make aging in place challenging without the right steps. These include a lack of transportation and a home that may not be set up for a senior or someone with impairments.

Key Takeaways:

  • A 2022 University of Michigan poll found that 88% of adults ages 50 to 80 felt it was important to remain in their home for as long as possible.
  • In 2023, the typical U.S. homeowner had spent 11.9 years in their home, up from 6.5 years in 2005.
  • The share of Americans who are ages 65 and older has grown from 12.3% in 2000 to 17.1% in 2022.
  • In 2021, more than 88% of older adults ages 65 and older lived in their own home.

Aging In Place Statistics

Surveys of older Americans have repeatedly found that as they age, a wide majority of seniors would prefer to live in their own home. Among those ages 50 and older, upward of 3 in 4 Americans say it is their preference to remain in their homes as they get older.

The widespread interest in aging in place means that a growing number of people are looking to stay in the same place, as the demographics of the national population shift increasingly older. Researchers have described this as a “gray tsunami,” as the baby boomer generation ages and fewer Americans have children. In 2023, there were roughly 55 million Americans in the 65-plus age group. That number is expected to rise to nearly 80 million by 2040.

How Many Americans Prefer To Age in Place?

In 2022, a survey from the National Poll on Healthy Aging of more than 2,200 adults ages 50 to 80 found that over 88% believed it was important to age in place. More than half of those polled also said they had given at least some thought to the modifications they would need to install to remain in their home.

Results are consistent with other surveys of older adults about aging in place. A 2021 American Advisors Group survey of more than 1,500 adults found that more than 90% of senior homeowners ages 60-75 preferred to remain in their current home as they age.

Behind the desire to remain in place is a focus on independence. Four in ten respondents from the American Advisors Group Importance of Home Survey identified “independence” as the greatest benefit to remaining at their current home.

Surveys also show that many older adults hope to live close to friends or family. A 2023 survey from the National Poll on Healthy Aging found that more than 1 in 3 adults ages 50 to 80 had felt isolated from others in the past year.

 How Many People Are Living in Place?

While homeownership rates have fluctuated throughout the 21st century, falling from record highs in the early 2000s, more Americans are staying in their homes for longer time periods.

In 2023, a Redfin analysis found that the typical U.S. homeowner had spent 11.9 years in their home, down from a recent peak of 13.4 years in 2020 but up significantly from just 6.5 years in 2005.

Older Americans staying in place has been the driving force behind the increase, as nearly 40% of baby boomers have spent at least 20 years living in the same home.

Those ages 65 and up also have high rates of homeownership or living with another person. In 2021, more than 88% of older adults ages 65-plus lived in their own home, and more than 9% lived in the home of someone else, typically that of their adult child.

What Are the Challenges of Aging in Place?

Despite Americans’ widespread preference to live in place, challenges remain for many to be able to do so.

One of the key barriers is the state of their current home — and the costs that come with retrofitting it for an aging person’s changing lifestyle. A 2020 report from the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that just 10% of homes were “aging-ready,” a characterization that means they feature a step-free entryway, a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor, and at least one bathroom accessibility feature. These modifications are needed to reduce the likelihood of a fall and enable older adults to live independently. However, making such upgrades can be costly.

Other barriers to aging in place include the safety and accessibility of a person’s surroundings. In neighborhoods with limited access to support services, older adults are more likely to report being in poor health.

A lack of transportation can also be a barrier, as many older adults lose the ability to drive when they age.

What Is Required for Aging in Place?

Along with the basic home modifications considered necessary for aging in place, older adults may consider a variety of other home upgrades to accommodate the changes in their lifestyle and needs.

These upgrades vary by the room or appliance being modified:

  • Bathroom upgrades to avoid falls include grab bars, nonslip surfaces, and a place to sit in the shower, as well as a walk-in tub or shower.
  • Bedroom modifications can involve an adjustable bed and, if upstairs or downstairs, the relocation of the bedroom.
  • For a kitchen, adults can consider stoves with safety features that alert you when a burner is on, as well as wheelchair-accessible counters and appliances.
  • Similarly, easy-to-access switches are recommended for lights.
  • To reduce the danger of falling, non-shag carpeting is recommended for floors.
  • Wider doors and lever handles in lieu of doorknobs can help improve accessibility.
  • In stairwells, sturdy railings and thin carpeting help improve safety, while an electric stair lift may be necessary for moving between floors.
  • Having at least one no-step entryway is essential, while ramps may be necessary to maintain access through other entryways.

Still, upgrades can be costly, particularly for higher-end modifications. The average cost for a walk-in tub can range from $2,000 to $5,000, while purchasing a stair lift may range from $2,000 up to $14,000.

What Makes Aging in Place Possible?

Along with an individual’s own ability to afford and make upgrades to their home, the cost of housing, the availability of transportation, and local land use policies also affect Americans’ ability to age in place.

Having increased transportation options can provide older adults with greater mobility as they reduce their reliance on a personal car. Having affordable housing can preserve the ability of some older adults to live independently.

Social connections are also key for older adults. A 2022 survey from the National Poll on Healthy Aging found that a large majority of older adults said they have someone in their life who could help with grocery shopping (84%), household chores (80%), and managing their finances (79%). But that still leaves a share of older adults without such support. Those who lived alone were less likely to report having someone in their life who could assist with their personal care.

How Many Choose Nursing Homes Over Aging in Place?

With most older adults aging in place, each year fewer and fewer Americans are living in nursing homes, with many opting instead for at-home care or living with relatives.

Over the past eight years, the number of residents living in nursing homes decreased by 12%, from nearly 1.4 million in mid-2015 to 1.2 million in mid-2023.

In 2021, more than 50 million adults ages 65 and up were living at home.

FAQ

What percentage of people want to age in place?

Surveys find that upward of 3 in 4 older Americans want to remain in their home as they age.

How many older Americans still live at home?

More than 88% of older adults ages 65 and up lived in their own home in 2021.

Is aging in place becoming more popular?

Yes, fewer people are moving into nursing homes, while a vast majority of Americans hope to live in place.

What are the disadvantages of aging in place?

The costs of making a home “aging-ready” can be a barrier to remaining in place. Modifications, such as bathroom and appliance upgrades, can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, and relatively few people have a home with the right qualities.

Are older adults prepared to age in place?

Relatively few people are ready to remain in their homes as they currently stand. A 2020 report from the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that just 10% of homes were “aging-ready,” meaning that they have a step-free entryway, a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor, and at least one bathroom accessibility feature.

Sources

Robinson-Lane, S. “Older Adults’ Preparedness to Age in Place.” University of Michigan, Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, National Poll on Healthy Aging. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Anderson, D. “Homeowners Today Stay in Their Homes Twice As Long As They Did in 2005, Driven Largely By Older Americans Aging in Place.” Redfin. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Population ages 65 and above for the United States.” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Housing America’s Older Adults.” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Importance of Home Survey.” American Advisors Group. Evaluated June 13, 2024.

Ratnayake, M., et al. “Aging in Place: Are We Prepared?” Delaware Journal of Public Health. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Population Pyramid: Population by Age and Sex.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

2023 National Population Projections Tables: Main Series.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Chidambaram, P., & Burns, A. “A Look at Nursing Facility Characteristics Between 2015 and 2023.” KFF. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Malani, P. “Trends in Loneliness Among Older Adults from 2018-2023.” University of Michigan, Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, National Poll on Healthy Aging. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Homeownership Rate.” United States Census Bureau. Evaluated June 6, 2024.

Vespa, J., et al. “Old Housing, New Needs: Are U.S. Homes Ready for an Aging Population?” U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Census Bureau. Evaluated June 6, 2024.


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