"I have enjoyed greatly, the second blooming … suddenly you find at the age of 50, that a whole new life has opened before you."

Agatha Christie

Like Agatha Christie long ago, fifty-somethings today are planning for their active decades ahead. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, home ownership among the above-fifty age group rose steadily from 2000 to 2004. While many dream of retirement to Florida or Arizona, others prefer to "age in place," a term which means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably at any age.

Over fifty and "fixing to stay"

The AARP held a "fixing to stay" study and found the 89 percent of homeowners preferred to remain in their homes through retirement. With this group in mind the AARP developed the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Program) in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). According to the NAHB, 98 percent of all housing designed and built in the U.S is for fully able and mobile people; however, 80 percent of us will require special housing needs at some point. The CAPS program was created to train professionals to design and build living environments so that people of varying abilities could have access to a home.

Each aging-in-place specialist is specially trained in the unique needs of older people and home modifications that can help people live independently longer. Among CAPS consultants are professionals who range from architects to builders to health care consultants. The AARP has developed a ten point check list which can be used to assess the livability of a community. An online interactive quiz helps users identify whether their home and community will meet their needs as they age.


A significant group of seniors in the U.S. today seek housing to suit both their needs and the very different needs of their grandchildren.

Multi-generational households have been on the rise since 1970 and according to the most recent U.S. Census, 2.4 million grandparents are primary caregivers for their grandchildren. Legislation passed 18 months ago in the House of Representatives which addresses their specific needs.

The Legacy Act (Living Equitably, Grandparents Aiding Children and Youth) encourages projects such as Grandfamilies type housing. The first specifically designed housing "Grandfamilies' House" opened several years ago in Boston. It provides affordable rental housing with features like ramps and grab bars for older tenants, in addition to child-proof windows and outlets for their grandchildren. Grandfamilies' houses in 13 other states are in the works.

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