Montana, Aging, and the Search for A Home

By KAT DODD

The Baby Boomer generation is now the biggest senior generation of all time!

According to the National Vital Statistics System, increased survival to old age and increasing expectancy of years in old age have created conditions unprecedented in human history.

I was pleased to hear Donald L. Redfoot, PhD, speak at the recent Montana Governor’s Conference on Aging in Helena, Mont. According to Dr. Redfoot, our older population increased 16 fold since the start of the 20th century — from 3 million in 1900 to 49 million in 2016.

It increased from 1 in 25 to 1 in 7 Americans and 1 in 6 in Montana! These numbers are projected to nearly double to 88 million by 2050.

This trend makes it vital for our communities to start planning now for age-friendly communities, in particular, age friendly homes! Our seniors are more active than ever as they approach — and pass — the centenarian mark.

Just this year, 124 persons were recognized at the conference for meeting and exceeding the 100-year mark!

It’s important that we not stereotype our seniors — they are more active and also the most educated generation of our time.

Seniors today look for walkable areas, trails, parks, outdoor activities nearby, shopping, restaurants, educational opportunities, and entertainment within a short walk or commute. In addition, homes that provide the freedom to stay independent as they age are in high demand.

Just a few of the sought-after amenities in single-level homes are wider hallways, accessible cabinets and closets, larger bathrooms with walk-in showers, and comfort-height toilet seats. Unfortunately, these types of homes are low in availability.

One builder I spoke to, James Rhodes with Point Arbor Construction, has been building homes with the aging population in mind for years and will continue to do so. Since he’s keenly aware of the upcoming need.

No longer will a jacuzzi tub be a determining factor when buying a home; however, a walk in shower will be a non-negotiable.

According to AARP, one in three Americans is now 50 or older. By 2030, one out of every 5 people in the United States will be 65 or older. Will our communities by ready?

The time to plan is now! MSN

If you would like more information, please contact your Area Agency on Aging at flathead.mt.gov/aging/

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