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Editors Note: The following editorial from Amy Schectman, president and CEO of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, a LeadingAge member in Massachusetts, appeared in the July 8 edition of the Boston Globe.
Lisa Kocian's article “Aging gracefully” (Globe West, July 1) touched on the powerful themes of choice and supports needed to age gracefully. The number of people in their 90s will quadruple over the next 25 years — and this generation not only will demand choice, they will overwhelmingly outlive their resources to afford most of today's senior living communities. As the article illustrated, most options are very pricey.
Only the nonprofit example shown was within the range for middle-class seniors.
Public policy makes it extremely challenging to offer supportive options for those of modest means. Government funding programs target extremely and very low-income households; the cost to provide the depth of services needed to age gracefully in apartments (rather than nursing homes) outstrips the ability of middle-class seniors to pay for them.
Because Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly is a mission-driven nonprofit, we raise and spend philanthropic dollars to make sure “aging gracefully” housing is available to all seniors.
We need to figure this out.
While the article reports that most seniors prefer to stay in their homes, the reality of long-life expectations and the aging process means that most seniors will have some years where they are limited by physical or mental frailties — and “aging in place” in single-family homes sounds attractive but actually is extremely lonely.
Supportive senior housing, with choices about services and programs, can provide a rich community life for even those with limited mobility and capacity.
The Boston Globe article was the first step in an important process to educate seniors about their options, and to alert society about the urgency of the need to build supportive, affordable senior housing.