Designing Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging Population

By 2030, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. This approaching “gray tsunami” of older Americans sheds light on the housing needs and challenges of an aging population that is more and more concerned with affordability, aging in place, and services. To celebrate the opening of the Museum’s long-term exhibition, House & Home, which examines the 500 hundred year history of the American home, the Museum convened professionals and practitioners from multiple disciplines to address housing and neighborhoods for an aging population. Topics included federal policies that need to be implemented to allow aging in place; changes to our physical environments that allow for the limited mobility of the aging; and case studies of communities that have successfully addressed the needs of its aging population.

The Honorable Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, delivered a keynote address in which he asked if we, as a nation, are prepared to meet the growing housing and medical needs of the aging portion of our population while ensuring freedom of choice to age in the homes and communities that the elderly have chosen.

The symposium also served as a book launch. Laura L. Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, was on hand for the debut of the book Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America (University of Texas Press). The book was co-edited by staff of Stanford's Center for Longevity, and several of the contributors to the book joined federal officials and designers to lend their expertise to the symposium’s topics.

Support for House & Home and related education programming is provided by The Home Depot Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Hanley Wood, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Andersen Corporate Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, MASCO Corporation Foundation, and AARP, among others.

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