This from a recent New York Times article:
“In two years, baby boomers will start to retire [if they haven’t been forced to already due to the recession!], and by 2030 the number of American’s elderly is expected to reach 72 million, more than double the number in 2000. Demographers expect the suburbs to age particularly quickly, as residents retire close to home, or as those who have already moved to the Sun Belt return to live near relatives as they grow frail.”*
Those are some pretty astonishing numbers. It’s what some people have referred to as “the baby-boomer tsunami,” and we as a culture need to start planning and designing now. Luckily, some people have been already.
Re-creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging edited by Pauline S. Abbott, Nancy Carman, Jack Carman (who serves on the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Advisory Board), and Bob Scarfo, is a timely new book that addresses these issues and highlights interesting and creative solutions. Drawing from the fields of gerontology, health sciences, community planning, landscape architecture, and environmental design, the book provides an in-depth examination of current elder housing practices and strategies, alongside goals for the future.
Housing models, such as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), shared housing, and co-housing, are evaluated, and best practice recommendations are presented. Expert contributors also incisively explore interdisciplinary issues including
- the causal relationship between health and the environment
- challenges posed by America’s automobile-dependent suburban communities
- elder-friendly design principles, including universal design and defensible space
- restorative benefits of nature and green environments
- assistive technology that can support older adults’ independence
- retrofitting of naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs)
The book closes with an inspiring look at opportunities for future collaboration of the health sciences and the planning and design professions for the realization of supportive, life-affirming communities that will result in healthy aging, active living, and continued social participation for older adults.
*”Suburbs See a Challenge as Residents Grow Old,” New York Times ‘Metropolitan’ section, December 6, 2009, pp. 1 & 8.