As thousands of Boomers a day retire and face mobility and health challenges, the United States will be facing a huge wave of issues.
This is truly bipartisan--despite the squabbling endemic to DC and especially to the campaign. Everyone knows or is related to someone older who will be facing decisions and problems.
The task force spearheading this year-long study consisted of Henry Cisneros, former Dem HUD secy, Allyson Y. Schwartz, former Dem House member, Mel Martinez, former Rep HUD secy and Senator, and Vin Weber, for Rep member of the House. Two Dems, two Reps.
On the premise that many older people prefer not to leave their homes, and also on the assumption, that it's a good thing to keep people as healthy as possible--on a plateau--in their homes, the task force looked at several areas:
--Relationship not only of one's health to what is needed in the home, but also the connection between what the home is like and health itself. In other words, an older person may need one-story, or grab bars, but the familiarity and comfort of home can also affect health conditions.
--The need for more affordable rentals for older people, not just "poor" people but also middle class (40% of Americans have $25,000 or less in the bank), who need to leave the home for a smaller rental. We need 6 million more affordable rentals in this country. Federal regulations add 25% to the cost of a new home--we need to cut or eliminate many of those. Also--tax incentives can encourage the private sector to build more suitable units and houses.
--Housing can, with planning and forethought, be suitable for a lifespan. You don't need to put in grab bars, but make the walls strong enough to take them when the time comes to install them. There are many other examples.
--Only 3.8% of all housing--now--is suitable for people with limited mobility. Communities also lack transportation (many older people can no longer drive).
--Falls increase health care costs by $34 billion a year. We need to retrofit premises or help people relocate to prevent falls--which would also cut the increase in Medicare.
--And more clinical services need to be brought into the home--rather than making frail older people with no transportation get out to doctors.
These are just a few things the group looked at. The report is due out May 23rd.
I attended this seminar--on the web. This was good because I am limited in my mobility and have no transportation.