A shortage of affordable housing for seniors could lead to the next housing crisis. A housing study released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation says homes are too costly, not accessible to seniors with challenges with mobility and located in the wrong places.

With the population both growing and aging, the housing problem needs to be addressed now, before it becomes unmanageable. Let’s take a look at three of the key problems revealed in the Harvard study.

The Housing Needs of An Aging Population

High Housing Costs

In the US and Canada rents and home prices continue to increase, yet income for seniors remains the same. According to the Harvard study, a third of adults over 50 — including 37 percent of those 80 and over — pay more than 30% of their income for homes. Similar figures apply in Canada. In some cities, one in fourteen households do not meet the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s standards for affordability.

Inaccessible Housing

Seniors are often forced to leave their homes and communities as they age due to a lack of basic accessibility features such as no-step entires, one level floor plans, extra-wide doorways and hallways to allow for easy access and movement by seniors with walkers or wheelchairs. Most homes are not functional for seniors with disabilities or mobility issues forcing many seniors to sell their homes and transitioning to apartment living. While many apartments are more amenable to seniors with mobility challenges, they still run the risk of being isolated from their circle of friends and community and may have challenges making new friends in their new homes.

Living In The Wrong Places

Even with accessible housing, seniors in rural areas and some smaller urban centers risk being isolated or unable to access health care services and the like if they are unable to drive. In addition to some homes not being ideally located, studies show that the vast majority of people in their 50s and 60s say they want to remain in their existing homes.

Aging Successfully

Explore your retirement options with Senior Transition Guide (STG). STG has been helping families make the right decisions about retirement options for adult children and their aging parents. The Smart Choices Tool provides comprehensive information on retirement living and can help families learn more about the retirement options and senior services available in their communities.

Whether you’re an active adult looking for a retirement community as an alternative to the rising costs of home ownership or a senior looking for affordable hosing with ongoing medical support, there are plenty of options to choose from.