From co-housing to niche communities and the Village Model, today’s retirees have many, many options, writes author Beth Baker in a recent Forbes column. The emphasis is on community, she says, and the rising number of nontraditional options that are getting people’s attention.
“I started to see news articles about the Village Model and then I looked around and realized I had friends who moved into co-housing or had begun to live with a friend and share a house. So I felt it was an emerging trend that’s grappling with some pretty profound issues that can really make our lives better as we grow older,” Baker says in the Forbes question and answer column.
Preferences are shifting greatly among baby boomers from the previous generation of senior living inhabitants, Baker found in her nationwide study of senior living options.
“I think what we want is very much what our parents wanted,” Baker, 62 says. “What’s different is I feel like we have more confidence and more of a history of making change happen. So it’s not that the desires have shifted; it’s that I think we are — as a generation — more proactive, willing to shake things up and proud of that.”
Baker shares findings on Alzheimer’s care including an independent operator of a memory care community in Maine and house sharing — both types.
“I think people should start thinking about things like that and get creative so they can live out their lives the way they want,” she says. View the full article on Forbes.
From “granny pods” to moveable elder cottages, many solutions are coming to market to meet the growing need for an alternative to traditional long term care. Enter New Avenue Homes, a California-based company that helps homeowners capitalize on the concept of “small house” design.
The company connects homeowners with architects and builders to create customized solutions for people to add accessory dwellings, or simply remodel their existing homes to accommodate aging parents or other multi-generational living situations. Designers work to utilize the small homes — often not more than 800 square feet in size.
By New Avenue’s estimates, the alternative solution can save aging homeowners as much as $1 million over the course of 10 years.
“Communities want it, homeowners want it and neighbors don’t oppose it,” says New Avenue Founder Kevin Casey. “It’s fairly unique and it’s shocking how welcoming homeowners, cities and lawmakers have been to this concept.”
New Avenue has been in business for several years, but has just recently rolled out an online platform that allows all parties to collaborate on the design of an accessory dwelling that sits on an existing property allowing for aging parents to remain close to family, but still in their own homes.
“Homeowners start a project and invite an architect and contractor in,” Casey explains. “It’s the only transparent system where all three groups share all of their communications. It’s a revolutionary shift in how remodels are done.”
The company counts 1,500 projects that are currently online, with 80 projects currently in the architecture or design phase and a 300% increase in both new customers and project activities from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014—in part resulting from the rollout of its new platform.
According to its research, roughly 30% of homeowners are interested in adding an accessory dwelling, including baby boomers who are looking for options for their aging parents. Currently, that group comprises about a quarter of New Avenue’s work, with the company seeing success in making inroads for accessory dwellings where permitting previously hasn’t allowed for them. Casey says he has received calls from state senators, mayors, city officials and national housing policy think tanks interested in providing solutions to affordable housing options.
“It’s the only form of housing that fits with the majority of homes in the country,” he says. “It truly is welcomed by the community.”
New Avenue offers a series of floor plans as starting points, with a typical accessory dwelling being about 700 square feet with one bedroom, one bathroom and a living area. The cost varies depending on the features the homeowner chooses, but New Avenue estimates families can save more than $60,000 per year when considering the cost of an alternative option, plus property tax, utilities and other expenses.
In addition to meeting the preferences of older homeowners, Casey says the concept is lasting due to the need.
“The concept of how you use your home for the second half of your life is not a singular concept,” he says. “There are five to 10 primary functions your home is going to serve.”
Spending time online has the potential to ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to research published online in The Journals of Gerontology. In the article “Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis,” the authors report that Internet use reduced the probability of a depressed state by 33 percent among their study sample.
Late-life depression affects between 5 and 10 million Americans age 50 and older. This new study shows that the Internet offers older Americans a chance to overcome the social and spatial boundaries that are believed to fuel depression.
The research was conducted by Shelia R. Cotten, PhD, of Michigan State University; George Ford, PhD, of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies; Sherry Ford, PhD, of the University of Montevallo; and Timothy M. Hale, PhD, of the Center for Connected Health and Harvard Medical School.
“Retired persons are a population of interest, particularly because one mechanism by which Internet use may affect depression is to counter the effects of isolation and loneliness, which are more common among older adults,” the authors stated. “Also, working individuals may be required to use the Internet rather than choosing to, and may use the technology for different reasons than those not working.”
The data were obtained from four waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey collecting information from more than 22,000 older Americans every two years. The current study sample included 3,075 community-dwelling respondents observed over 4 waves of data, from 2002 to 2008, yielding a total of 12,300 observations.
The measurement of Internet use was based on a question asking participants, “Do you regularly use the World Wide Web, or the Internet, for sending and receiving e-mail or for any other purpose?” Depression was measured using an eight-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
With other factors constant, the authors found that Internet users had an average predicted probability of depression of .07, whereas that probability for nonusers was .105. Based on the difference, Internet use led to a 33 percent reduction in the probability of depression.
“Number of people in the household partially mediates this relationship, with the reduction in depression largest for people living alone,” the authors wrote. “This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness. Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation, loneliness, and depression.”
The North Carolina Department of Commerce announced that Tarboro and Edenton have been designated Certified Retirement Communities. The General Assembly established the program in 2008 to designate communities that offer unprecedented quality of living that is desirable to retirees. “This designation will be a valuable economic development tool for both Tarboro and Edenton and their residents,” said Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “The people of Tarboro and Edenton recognize the valuable contributions that retirees can make to enhance their community.”
“North Carolina is experiencing a healthy in-migration of retirees to the state and this program aims to attract retirees and persuade them to put down roots in North Carolina. To gain certification, a local government must submit an application that includes a comprehensive community survey and assessment tool that spans numerous dimensions reflecting the city’s readiness for retiree attraction. Ratings criteria include:
• Local economy
• Leisure/cultural opportunities
• Services for retirees
“We are both excited and honored to be one of North Carolina’s Certified Retirement Communities and look forward to the many opportunities the program will bring to Edenton and Chowan County as we continue to embrace folks looking for a new community in which to spend their retirement years,” said Roland Vaughan, mayor of Edenton. “Edenton has those amenities, both tangible and intangible, to deliver a quality of life that is desired by many when looking for a new home. Our door is always open.”
Edenton and Tarboro each submitted an application in January 2014. Both communities were noted for many local amenities that are attractive to retirees. Communities with this official designation receive marketing and promotion assistance from the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film, & Sports Development.
North Carolina previously named the following cities as Certified Retirement Communities: Lumberton, Asheboro, Marion, Sanford, Mount Airy, Pittsboro and Eden.
Long-term care is expensive across the country, but some states — particularly those on the East Coast — have much higher median costs than others, as demonstrated by Genworth’s 2014 Cost of Care Survey.
The East Coast by far outpaces the national median for assisted living care, along with noncontiguous states Alaska and Hawaii. Meanwhile, the Midwest and Mountain states tend to be more in line with or beneath the national median.
Nearly half of the states have a higher median annual cost for care in a single-occupancy assisted living unit than the U.S. median of $42,000.
The most expensive states for assisted living care are:
On the other end of the spectrum, Georgia and Missouri are tied for cheapest states for median annual assisted living costs at $30,000, with Arkansas, South Carolina, and Alabama all coming in beneath $35,000.
Median costs for a private room in a skilled nursing facility are even steeper, ranging from $57,000 on the low end in Oklahoma to $130,670 in New York (and nearly $5,000 more in Hawaii, topped by $240,900 in Alaska).
While home healthcare is often touted as a less expensive alternative than institutional care, Genworth’s cost of care map for home health services demonstrates that it’s only cheaper if round-the-clock care isn’t needed for a long period of time.
The national median annual cost for home health aide services is $45,188, with Louisiana on the low end of the spectrum at $34,320 and Massachusetts and Hawaii at the high end, above $57,000 a year.
Check out the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey