There are many factors that go into maintaining a budget in a family while also trying to save for the future. For Americans, the cost of maintaining a household has gotten continuously more expensive; the average cost of raising a child born in 2013 now costs roughly $245,000 for a middle income family in the United States, with housing for the child accounting for about 30% of those costs. This is compared to a study done in 1960 by the United States Department of Agriculture that stated middle income families could expect the average cost of raising a child to be a little more than $25,000 until age 18. Interestingly in both studies, housing accounted for the largest expense for the families surveyed. The children once focused on in these 1960s studies have now become the focus of our article, and one thing remains the same, housing is still the biggest expense they must account for.
As the aging population refocuses their priorities for housing, they must consider factors such as accessibility to stores, services, transportation, medical care if they experience chronic conditions, as well as access to social settings and connections. The worry of many aging people is that they will be forced to leave their home and instead reside in an assisted living or nursing home in order to retain government assistance with healthcare. There will also need to be a refocus on the ability to provide for a more diverse population of elderly people; with the thousands of individuals turning 65 years old daily over the next two decades will come a much more diverse population that has had drastically different housing situations.
While the problem continues to grow, there are possibilities that elders can consider together to ease the burden ahead. First, if an elder has a supportive family unit, working with them to discuss possible scenarios in the case of illness or old age would open dialogue in order to get everyone thinking about next steps through the aging process. Families can also help parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, with determining their financial status, what they can and cannot afford and what needs to be saved in order to maintain the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to.
Additionally, many elders seek to ‘age in place’ for many understandable reasons such as social relationships, familiarity and comfort. Finding a way to make their current living situation workable, whether through ADA accessibility or other modifications, may keep costs of healthcare down as well. In order to start with these steps, individuals can contact non profit organizations or local agencies to either assist in making a plan or to help care for a loved one, whether it be the occasional check in or a more full time care situation.