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As you think about growing older, would you rather live in your own home or somewhere else?

If you answered "in my own home" or "in my community", you’re not alone.

Recent AARP surveys report that 89 percent of people want to stay in their own home and community as they age. So how can towns and cities support this choice when more and more homes are headed by adults age 65 and older?

Since 1977, the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center has been gathering, analyzing and disseminating data to help nonprofit and civic leaders work smarter and more strategically. They tackled this very question in its report Drivers of Housing Demand: Preparing for the Impending Elder Boom.

The progression of the baby boomers through the age ranks along with falling birth rates have already brought massive changes to our region – and indeed the whole country – with many more changes yet to come. For example, in the New Orleans metro area, since 1980, the share of households with children has fallen from 43 percent to 33 percent, while the share of individuals living along has grown from 24 percent to 28 percent. These trends are likely to accelerate as the baby boomers age – with individuals living alone outnumbering households with children in the not too distant future.

The report states that the community should support older adults who wish to stay in their homes as long as possible because it will reduce the number of homes coming onto the market in the near-term and avoid the risk of vacant properties, particularly in neighborhoods with weak housing markets.

“Many residents over age 65 will need no extra supports to remain in their homes. However, we project that by 2020 more than 12,000 New Orleanians over the age of 65 will have a moderate or serious disability and be living at home,” said Allison Plyer, Deputy Director and Chief Demographer, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.

According to the report, the city, state and community will need to develop a range of policies and programs that facilitate aging in place for these households specifically.

  • Increase the accessibility of the housing stock through home improvements (wheelchair ramps, widened doors, and off street parking)
  • Promote universal design in some new construction
  • Monitor the supply of in-home services
  • Wider array of housing options designed for seniors with varying levels of support services
  • Wider array of affordable housing

“By planning now, we can ensure we have appropriate housing and services for the imminent wave of older adults,” said Plyer. “In order for cities to thrive, we need to meet the housing needs of aging residents.”

With support from AARP Louisiana, the data center released a 5-minute YouTube video that highlights the report.

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