Although aging in place was once the norm in U.S. society, modern land use trends and housing stock design make this goal increasingly difficult to achieve today. This edition of Evidence Matters hits close to home for many families as they or their relatives age and consider their evolving needs. By examining the demographic shifts and preferences of the elderly population, we aim to provide a backdrop for the challenges that confront communities across the country.
The feature article, “Aging in Place: Facilitating Choice and Independence,” reviews the trends underpinning the issue and looks at the federal, state, and local programs and policies for the elderly that are accommodating a shift away from institutional living and toward aging in place with supports. The Research Spotlight article, “Measuring the Costs and Savings of Aging in Place,” examines efforts to measure the potential health cost savings (as well as improvements in well-being) to families and the government when individuals are able to age in their homes with assistance, reinforcing the argument that housing matters. Finally, grassroots efforts to aid the elderly in their communities and provide practical solutions for the supportive services necessary to age in place are examined in the In Practice article, “Community-Centered Solutions for Aging at Home.” Readers may find that the issues involved in creating aging-friendly communities have much in common with the issues involved in building livable communities, such as the role that density and transit systems can play in providing access to neighborhood amenities.
Together, these articles give a sense of the breadth of housing and community development issues associated with the graying of America while also identifying the significant and ongoing need for further research. On this front, the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation to fund a proposal for a demonstration to test models for subsidized aging in place. (For more information, see “Demonstration Will Evaluate Subsidized Models for Aging in Place.”) Of course, like HUD and HHS, every federal agency and state government will need to come to terms with the effect that the aging American population will have on the programs and services they provide. Join us on January 9, 2014, when we will explore this issue as part of PD&R’s Quarterly Update.
I hope you find this issue of Evidence Matters enjoyable and thought-provoking. Our next issue will focus on vacancy and the reuse of vacant land. As always, please provide any feedback at www.huduser.gov/forums.
— Rachelle Levitt, Director of Research Utilization Division
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