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No Place Like Home: AARP's View on Livable Communities

Chris Hansen
Group Executive Officer of State and National Initiatives at AARP
Booming into the Future III: Creating a Livable Community Conference in Providence, RI.

2011 is the Symbolic Beginning of Our "Changing Face of Aging"

  • The year 2011 just six years from now, will mark the symbolic beginning of a "changing face" of aging in America. That's when the first wave of the 76 million-strong post-World War II "baby boom" generation begins turning 65. The "boomers," of course are those of us born in this country between 1946 and 1964.
  • So, it's clearly time to break away from the status quo in our thinking and start focusing on how things should be and can be, given what we know today about the boomers and the aging of America.
  • From now on, every planning decision made in every community must take into account the impact on older residents, who can no longer be an afterthought. The ability of our communities to adapt to an aging nation will paramount in the 21st century.

What AARP has Learned About the Boomers

  • AARP has done extensive research on the boomers with surveys, studies, and focus groups. So what have we found out about these boomers?

Boomers are More Ethnically Diverse than Prior Generations

  • Less than three-quarters of the boomers are white, while nearly 90 percent of Americans born before 1946 are white. Hispanics are now the fastest growing ethnic group and have surpassed African-Americans as our largest minority group.

And More Highly Educated than Their Predecessors

  • Twenty-seven percent have college degrees, compared with 12 percent for today's older Americans. More than 60 percent of the boomers have a high school diploma, while only 44 percent of the older groups made it that far.

 

Boomers Do Not Plan to "Retire" in the Traditional Sense

  • They view their "old age" or "retirement years" as a time of lifestyle transition rather than a termination of employment. Many of them fully intend to keep working, although not necessarily in their primary occupations.
  • Fully 8 out of 10 of the boomers we surveyed said they will continue to work during their "retirement years." Only 16 percent expect not to work at all, after they retire from their career employment.

Most Boomers Living in the Same "State"

  • Something else we've discovered about the boomers: When it comes to aging, most boomers are living in the same state ? the state of denial!

Vast Majority of Boomers Want to Remain in Their Own Homes

  • But, for our purposes today, the most important fact about the boomers is that, when asked where they want to live as they age, full 90 percent say, "In my home." They do not want to live with relatives, in a nursing home, or at an assisted care facility. They want to live at home.

No Place Like Home

  • The word "home" is one of the most emotionally charged words we ever use. Our homes are central to our identities. They hold our possessions; they hold our memories; they give us a sense of place and belonging, comfort and security.

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For media inquiries, please contact the AARP Media Relations Office at (202) 434-2560 or media@aarp.org.

 

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