Aging in Place
Municipal Implementation Tool #012

Aging in Place

Product No.: MIT012
Date Published: 01/2007

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The number of elderly residents has increased dramatically throughout the nation and the region in recent years, and is expected to continue to increase at a record pace. The majority of these new and future retirees will expect to age in place, staying in the home or at least the community where they've spent most of their lives. Most suburban development patterns, however, cannot accommodate the mobility and service needs of seniors. Seniors living in the region's suburbs face numerous challenges, including limited accessibility within both their home and the community; difficulties in keeping up with home repair and maintenance; limited mobility as they lose their ability to drive; difficulty in accessing necessary services; and economics. This brochure presents recommendations aimed at enabling municipal officials to prepare for the coming senior boom by modifying local planning tools currently used to accomplish other land use goals. Flexible zoning codes that include provisions for shared housing, accessory dwellings units, and elder cottages, for example, can encourage the development of affordable, accessible housing options for seniors. Incorporating the principles of transit-oriented and New Urbanist development into local ordinances and codes can encourage the development of denser, mixed-use communities and thereby improve accessibility to necessary services. Universal design provisions could be included in building codes to make homes accessible and attractive for all ages and eliminate the cost of retrofitting units later. Communities can weigh the benefits of allowing age-restricted, "active adult" communities in appropriate locations. While the long-term impacts of these communities have not yet been determined, they may be an attractive solution for some seniors looking for housing options. Municipal officials can also support the development of elder-friendly communities, by expanding and improving transit options and creating safer, pedestrian-friendly environments.

Geographic Area Covered: Nine county Delaware Valley region, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer counties in New Jersey

Key Words: aging, aging in place, elderly, baby boomers, near-elderly, shared housing, accessory dwelling units, elder cottages, universal design, age-restricted housing, transit-oriented development, New Urbanism

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