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What Older Adults Want (And Do Not Want) in Their Community

There are several priorities that the majority of older adults appear to have about the built environment. Police presence and school improvements rank high importance, but the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that “access to various services and amenities range widely." This may be partly explained in that an older adult's choice is often left unexamined until some life event forces a reevaluation of those preferences, such as if a younger adult moves into a home.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University also reports that among all the age groups, older adults are the least likely to desire various services and amenities to be reachable by walking. For those that do want amenities within walking distance, adults 50 and older want grocery stores, pharmacies, parks and bus stops within a quarter-mile radius of their house. The Joint center also explains that adults that are either “non-drivers, persons with disabilities, and lower-income individuals” are more likely to “prefer proximity to services, transportation, and other amenities." Driving ability, physical status, and income level change as one ages and as a result older adults may rapidly change their preferences when one realizes their needs have been altered by the aging process.

Studies have shown the perception of one’s housing may influence their ability to carry out daily activities, which is an important indicator for whether an older adult may age in their current residence. A positive perception of one’s housing may help an older adult remain independent in daily activities and have a good sense of well-being. Because the perception of older adults has an effect on outcomes, personal preferences of older adults should be taken into account whether retrofitting existing suburban neighborhoods or approving new developments.

#olderadults #babyboomers #community #preferences #retrofit