Every person, regardless of age, can participate in creating a livable community. According to a newly published report from Generations United, opportunities that bring different generations together—even the tougher ones involving “tack[ling] critical problems” benefit the entire community.
Though somewhat counterintuitive, finding solutions to meet the needs of older adults must involve voices and collaboration coming from people of all ages. Various generations offer different perspectives, and in fact, people of all ages gain value from age friendly concepts. A recent project we led proved to be a living example.
A Winning Project
The likelihood of having a disability that limits a person’s mobility increases with age. Homes with physical barriers can present risk of falls and injuries, especially for someone with mobility challenges. In 2016, AARP and its partners called for submissions to a competition-style project that sought new solutions for homes that best accommodate our needs as we age. “Re-Defining Home: Home Today, Home Tomorrow,” developed through AARP’s Future of Housing Initiative, asked architects to redesign an existing home while embracing the concept of universal design—that is, design that supports and empowers all people and families: retirees, caregivers and their loved ones, people with disabilities, singles, and young and multigenerational families.
AARP and partners renovated a home in Memphis, TN to incorporate universal design features to accommodate the needs of residents as they age. New features include an open space floor plan with flexible space, wide hallways and spacious bathroom with a curb-less shower.
Photo: Benjamin Rednour
Entrants were challenged to discard typical designs usually targeted towards older adults such as ramps or shower handrails. Rather, competition judges wanted to see evidence of innovative thinking around how affordability, flexibility, community, accessibility, beauty and functionality could best be reflected in a home for people who want to remain in their homes as they age.
Designers incorporated features that provide opportunities to engage the community. Front yard planters can become a community garden. Large windows invite interaction with neighbors. Photo: Benjamin Rednour
The winning team included three junior architects, from IBI Group—Gruzen Samton, Gabriel Espinoza, Carmen Velez, and Timothy Gargiulo—professionals under age 30. Their designs considered what it means to age in place successfully: creating an easily navigable home, incorporating features to reduce fall risks, as well as creating space to nurture and maintain family and community connections. Ms. Velez no doubt drew from her own experience living with her grandmother, Carmencita Bengzon, to help inform the team’s choices. Ultimately, this winning team’s original and imaginative plans were incorporated into a house in Memphis, TN—now the home of a veteran and his family, including his mom, who has limited mobility.
IBI Group—Gruzen Samton architects, Gabriel Espinoza, Timothy Gargiulo, and Carmen Velez speak about their winning designs at the home renovation reveal (left). Mr. Walter Moody and his mother, see their “ageless” home for the first time (right). Photo: Benjamin Rednour
Also achieving success in age disruption was the entry from 11-year old Jennifer Haage, a self-described future architect. (Yes, that’s right—when we say all ages should contribute, we mean all ages.) In her thoughtful and comprehensive proposal, Jenny shared her ideas for aging within a home suitable for all families. Her designs included using wide hallways for wheelchair accessibility, creating multi-functional spaces, adding in interior and exterior green spaces, and incorporating a “cat corner,” since pets can be great companionship for older adults who may feel isolated.
Designs from Jennifer Haage, age 11, who shared her vision for an “ageless” home. Photo: Jennifer Haage
All-Ages Approach a Winning Combination
The Re-Defining Home competition illustrates how accessible home design can be duplicated across the country. The winning team exemplifies younger generations taking action to solve pressing issues that make stronger communities for all. Encouraging and inspiring young people to participate in aging issues can positively impact their families, careers and communities—and help us to make places more livable for people, both today and tomorrow.
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Shannon Guzman is a policy research senior analyst with the AARP Public Policy Institute, where she works on housing, transportation and land-use issues. Shannon focuses on policies and programs that create livable communities for people of all ages. For more information about livable communities visit, www.aarp.org/livable. Photo: DFinney
In a statement today following the release of the White House proposed budget, AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond opposed cuts that would harm American families:
“AARP opposes the budget proposed today because it explicitly harms the very people we are counting on the President to protect. Today’s budget proposes to cut Social Security benefits, as well as funding for critical health, hunger, housing, and transportation assistance to low and middle income seniors. This budget sends a powerful message to older Americans and their families that their health and financial security is at risk.”
“We do want to acknowledge the Administration’s paid leave proposal. Although it must be improved so that it addresses the workplace needs of all family caregivers, we hope that it leads to a national conversation about ways to support family caregivers in the workplace.”
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. To learn more, visit AARP online.
A couple of weeks back, we unveiled our new caregiving ad – starring a unique caregiver. You may recognize him as the antihero from Machete or Breaking Bad, but you would never assume he’s just like you. That’s right, actor Danny Trejo is a caregiver and he is showing just how tough male caregivers are.
Although the typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, there is a silent army of husbands, brothers, sons and friends – about 16 million– caring for their spouses, parents and other loved ones.
As family sizes shrink and the population ages, the number of male caregivers is only expected to rise, but they are often ignored in the caregiving conversation.
AARP, in conjunction with, the Ad Council is spotlighting this overlooked group through its new PSA campaign. The ad features Trejo performing the tough guy feats he is known for in films, alongside the everyday tough jobs a typical caregiver performs.
AARP’s new data profile on male caregivers shares insights on the level and type of care men provide, the challenges they face and more. Some of the key findings include:
- More than half of male caregivers (63%) are the primary caregiver for their loved one.
- Male family caregivers are helping their loved ones with personal care activities and more than half (54%) of male family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks, such as injections, tube feedings, and wound care.
- Many men say they feel unprepared for these tasks and express discomfort providing intimate personal care (e.g. bathing, dressing, toileting).
- Men are less likely than women to reach out for help and feel uncomfortable discussing the emotional challenges of caregiving.
- More than one-third (37%) of male caregivers don’t tell their employers that they are juggling caregiving responsibilities at home.
In addition, AARP sharing stories of men rising to the challenge and offering their lesson’s learned with others.
Caregivers can find helpful tools, like the Prepare to Care guides and more at aarp.org/caregiving.
Photo courtesy of iStock
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) threatens to do away with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protection for people with preexisting health conditions. This provision prevents insurance companies from denying these individuals coverage.
Eliminating this protection would force millions of Americans to—once again—rely on state high-risk pools. State high-risk pools are supposed to provide access to health insurance for people who cannot get coverage in the individual health insurance market because of preexisting health conditions.
State high-risk pools may sound like a good idea but, in reality, they are fraught with problems. One of the biggest lessons learned from experience with state high-risk pools: steep premiums that put coverage out of reach for millions. In the past, monthly premiums in state high-risk pools could be up to 200 percent higher than in the individual (non-group) market. Consequently, only a small fraction of those with preexisting conditions could afford to buy a plan. Yet, these premiums—high as they were—only covered about half the amount needed to pay enrollee claims. Most states tried to close the financial gap through taxes on providers and government subsidies, but even those efforts proved insufficient. We project that if states return to pre-ACA high risk pools in 2019, premiums for people with pre-existing conditions could be as high as $25,700 annually.¹
Another problem with state high-risk pools was that they typically offered skimpy coverage. For example, people who bought insurance through high-risk pools in nearly all states that offered them had to wait between six and 12 months before their preexisting conditions were covered. In addition, many had annual dollar limits on coverage for prescription drugs and behavioral health services.
The AHCA would provide $100 billion over nine years to fund—among other things—state high-risk pools. This level of funding is woefully inadequate to meet the need. One study estimates that it would cost at least $178 billion a year to adequately fund high-risk pools today. In the current policy environment, it is unlikely that the federal government will provide the necessary funding to make state high-risk pools work for the millions of people with a preexisting condition.
Bringing back insurers’ ability to consider preexisting conditions would hit older people especially hard—since people tend to have more health problems as they age; but younger people could be hurt by these policies too. Thus, the ban on preexisting conditions is an important protection for people of all ages. It’s time to stop recycling bad policies and come up with solutions that work for everybody.
Lynda Flowers is a senior strategic policy adviser with the AARP Public Policy Institute, specializing in Medicaid issues, health disparities and public health.
Claire Noel-Miller is a senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute, where she provides expertise in quantitative research methods applied to a variety of health policy issues related to older adults.
 Calculations by AARP Public Policy Institute. Estimate derived as follows: State-specific average premium data in 2010 obtained by dividing total premium revenues over total enrollment in each state high-risk pool. The average premium was inflated to 2019, when the AHCA would allow high-risk pools, using actual and projected per capita growth rates from direct purchased private health insurance from CMS Office of the Actuaries.