NY Times: Boomers Lead the Charge for Aging in Place

For the 72 million American baby boomers, 10,000 of whom are turning 65 each day, the question of how and where to age is garnering an increasingly wide variety of answers and possibilities, says a New York Times article, with aging in place a central theme.

An architect and a gerontologist who specializes in the relationship between aging and the built environment recently penned a book that collects 33 examples of residences that have been, writes the NYT, “designed to bridge the distance between one’s vital and declining years.”

Their book, published last week, is titled “Unassisted Living: Ageless Homes for Later Life,” and contains alternatives to senior living facilities.

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“As we began the project and talked to friends, who are mostly boomers, they said again and again: ‘There’s no way I’m moving into a nursing home. You’re going to have to shoot me first,'” said Rosenfeld, the gerontologist, in an interview with the NYT.

The boomer generation isn’t going to just fade out of consideration into senior housing designed for prior generations, the authors say.

“In Europe, the boomer generation is called the protest generation,” said Chapman, the architect, during the interview. “There is even more irreverence and indignation about the idea that we’re going to go easily into some senior home modeled after some prior generation.”

“One of the defining characteristics of boomers is that they want to push the boundaries and rethink the rules,” Rosenfeld agreed.

The whole notion of retirement has changed, said Chapman, and his co-author went on to say that they think boomers are “leading the charge” of older people living “everywhere”—not just in retirement homes.

The book touts grab bars as a way to help seniors stay in their homes, although it also includes some examples of homes with staircases. Some important home features that allow seniors to age in place include accessibility (especially in bathrooms), minimal thresholds, and non-slippery, no-glare surfaces.

Read the New York Times article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace