More and more, older adults favor aging in place, preferring to remain active and independent beyond middle age while still having access to transportation options and healthcare services they can use as their needs change.
About 77% of Americans age 50 and older say they would like to live in their community as long as possible, but just 59% anticipate being able to remain in their current home or a different place in the same community, according to AARP’s 2018 Home and Community Preferences survey. While most adults age 18 and older—63 percent—own their homes, about one-third expect having to make major modifications to accommodate their aging needs, AARP says.
Because of changing attitudes related to affordability, accessibility, and mobility, the survey finds many adults age 50 and older are willing to consider alternatives such as home-sharing (32 percent), building an accessory dwelling unit (31 percent), or residing in communities that provide services to enable aging in place (56 percent).
For example, the Jefferson, a 55-and-older condominium in Arlington, Va., offers older adults a unique option as they age in place: the ability to own their unit plus independent living, skilled nursing, and continuing care. High-end amenities, numerous activities, a maintenance-free lifestyle, and quick access to the cultural highlights of Washington, D.C., add to the community’s appeal.
Residents have the option to purchase their home without any buy-in fees beyond the price of the unit, the only senior community in the area with this distinction, notes Executive Director Juli Swanson.
“All of our competitors are either a continuing-care retirement community or a life-care community. That’s just a very different structure than what we have here with the condo,” explains Swanson, who has worked at the Jefferson for the past eight years. “At all those other places, you don’t get to own your home. Here at the Jefferson, you do. That’s one of the biggest selling points, after location.”
Making itself a community where older adults can live long term is something that the Jefferson has made a priority for its residents, who feel that the frequent socialization is one of the main aspects that allows them to feel at home.
“You never feel lonely here. It’s just so wonderful when you sit down to eat with different people, and they tell you their life story,” says 84-year-old retired nurse Julia Jeffries.
And Therese “Terri” Rae, a 75-year-old retired psychiatric nurse who has lived at the Jefferson for the past two years, perfectly captures what it’s like to live in the community: “We have independence, and if we want company, we’ve got it. And that’s the best thing.”