Baby Boomer Generation and
Our Retirement Communities
Baby Boomers want to age in our homes
for as long as possible and represent opportunities as the nation’s communities realize the largest population of educated and skilled older adults in its history.
America and its communities are aging and aging rapidly.
One out of every five people in the nation will be an older adult.
As the Baby Boom generation - born between 1946 and 1964- reaches retirement age, the number of Americans over age 65 is expected to reach 71.5 million by 2030.
The vast majority of Baby Boomers want to age in our homes and communities for as long as possible. However, the aging of the population will pose new challenges for the delivery of local services such as health care, exercise and recreation, housing, transportation, public safety, employment and education.
Health Care - Access to affordable health care and preventive services is a growing concern among Baby Boomers who have a greater risk of suffering from acute and chronic diseases. Recommendation: Communities should play a major role in ensuring access to a range of needed preventive health care services for aging Baby Boomers.
Recreation and Exercise - Too few Baby Boomers get sufficient daily exercise, despite research showing that exercise can greatly increase overall muscle strength, bone density, agility and general function. Recommendation: Communities should provide a range of fitness programs to assist aging Baby Boomers to safely and effectively exercise to improve our overall health and well being. Communities can also ensure that our parks and recreational facilities include walking trails, benches and fitness facilities that would accommodate and attract Baby Boomers.
Housing - Studies have shown that Baby Boomers overwhelmingly prefer to “age in place” in our existing homes and communities, but may need to modify our existing home or move to another residence that is more accessible, more affordable or more appropriate in size to accommodate our changing needs. Recommendation: Communities should play a critical role in promoting the development of home modification programs that assist aging Baby Boomers to adapt our existing homes to meet our needs.
Transportation - Reduced mobility can put Baby Boomers at higher risk of poor health, isolation and loneliness. Like the majority of American adults, Baby Boomers rely on private automobiles to meet our mobility needs. However, the physical limitations that come with age may overtime restrict or eliminate our ability to drive. Many Baby Boomers who cannot drive can still live independently if we have access to available, adequate, affordable and accessible public transportation. Recommendation: Communities should offer driving assessment and training to help aging Baby Boomers to remain on the road as safely as possible for as long as possible. Communities should also consider improvements to roadway design such as large print road signs, grooved lane dividers, dedicated left turn lanes and extended walk times at pedestrian crosswalks to accommodate older drivers and pedestrians.
Public Safety - Aging Baby Boomers often feel especially vulnerable to disasters or other emergencies, falls and injuries as well as crime and victimization. An estimated half-million persons age 60 and older are abused, neglected or exploited in their domestic settings. Additionally aging Baby Boomers who might suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are at risk for wandering off and getting lost. Recommendation: Communities should ensure that public safety personnel and first responders are trained to deal with the specialized needs of older adults and that these needs are specifically addressed in community disaster plans.
Employment and Education - Many aging Baby Boomers are remaining in the workforce and our numbers are expected to rise in the future. Factors that will make it more likely that we will continue to work include the increase in the Social Security retirement age, the elimination or reduction of employer pension plans, fluctuations in the stock market, and elimination of employer-provided retiree health coverage. The rise in older Baby Boomer workers will require communities to provide special job training or retraining, modified work schedules and other job accommodations. Recommendation: Communities should develop or partner with others who offer job training and retraining programs and lifelong learning opportunities that assist Baby Boomers to remain in the workforce.
To help cities and counties better meet the needs of their aging Baby Boomer population, and to harness our experience and talents, five national organizations have joined forces to identify ways to prepare for the aging of our population.
Known as The Maturing of America — Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population, the project is being led by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, in partnership with the International City/County Management Association, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities and Partners for Livable Communities. The initiative is funded by a grant from MetLife Foundation. More information at: http://www.aginginplaceinitiative.org/
Book: Worry-Free Retirement Living: Choosing a Full-Service Retirement Community
Book: Developing Active Adult Retirement Communities