The older adult population is rapidly growing in the U.S., calling for a need to create livable and age-friendly neighborhoods and communities suitable for people of all ages. Older adults are supposed to receive ultimate care from their families and the government at large. They’re supposed to reside in comfortable places where they can enjoy their independence and high quality of life in old age. However, the narrative is the opposite in the U.S., according to a new report.
The new report by Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University, co-authored with the AARP Public Policy Institute, has revealed that most older adults in the U.S do not reside in livable neighborhoods. The report further showed existing variations between those who have access to the most livable communities in the country and those who cannot.
According to Which Older Adults Have Access to America’s Most Livable Neighborhoods? An Analysis of AARP’s Livability Index, these variations depend on four things; whether the individual is a homeowner or a renter, whether they have a disability, their race/ethnicity, and income.
The JCHS report, using data from the AARP Livability Index and American Community Survey, has established that renters and Asian older adults are more likely to live in high livability communities, while home-owners, middle-income households, older adults with disabilities, and white older adults are more common in communities with low livability. On the other hand, African-American older adults hold steady across communities of all levels of livability.
However, even the communities considered most livable are not fully livable for the same reasons, while access to neighborhoods with the most livable features is limited. For example, renters, Hispanic, and Black older adults are overrepresented in communities with high scores for housing, amenities, and transportation, but homeowners and white older adults are overrepresented in places with high scores for opportunity, engagement, and environment. Both older renters and lower-income owners are less common in places with the highest scores for health.
Additionally, the report also found out that older adults who relocate do not move to neighborhoods with better livability. In fact, three-quarters of older adults who relocated recently moved to communities with almost the same livability score as their previous neighborhood, with only 11% relocating to locations with better livability score and 14% relocating to lower livable communities. Relocation of older adults is often barred by family proximity and affordability, considering most livable neighborhoods have the highest housing values. Moreover, it could also be that relocating older adults do not prioritize certain livability features for future benefits.
The JCHS report has revealed the hurdles that many people face while supporting aging people. One of the best ways to eliminate this challenge is to ensure even access to livable communities’ benefits. Everyone deserves to lead a quality life wherever they’re. We should strive to provide all the features that promote livability in a community without limitations to all. Policies should be developed to address barriers and improve livability for people of all ages, especially older adults.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions of Eric Lawrence Frazier are his own and do not necessarily represent First Bank or any organization affiliated with Eric Lawrence Frazier, or the Power Is Now Media Inc. First Bank is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA, is also a Vice President and Mortgage Advisor with First Bank. NMLS#461807 and a California Licensed Real Estate Broker DRE# 01143482. Email: Eric.email@example.com. Ph: 714- 475-8629.
Eric Lawrence Frazier MBA
President and CEO
The Power Is Now Media Inc.