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  • Writer's pictureChristoph Jalkotzy

warehousing the elderly

When I started looking for my downsizing options, I decided to look into the housing statistics relating to people over 60 years old. We know a large number of people over 60 years old are still living in a single detached home and that number becomes less as we age but still is more than 35% at age 85.

Figure 3 Percentage of the population aged 15 and over living in a single-detached house by age group, Canada, 2011

So based on the above and other info, we know that of all the people over 60 years of age approximately 60% are living in a single family dwelling (mostly detached), 33% are living in condos and apartments and 7% are living in seniors and nursing homes.

We also know that it costs more to house the elderly in purpose built facilities then letting them live in their own home and provide home-care, witness the rapid growth in home care services. It is also interesting that the average apartment vacancy rate in Ontario is approximately 2.4% while the vacancy rate in seniors residences is closer to 12%. The average monthly rental rate for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,100 and for a seniors home the rate is $2,800.

What are some of the key points that might explain the above data. a) people move into nursing and seniors homes as a last resort., What a surprise, the elderly generally don't want to be surrounded by more elderly to remind them that they are in the later stages of their life. b) people want to stay in their current home as long as possible c) there are a fairly large group (33%) that are happy in an apartment building or condo, that is the same as the 33% of the general population that live in apartments and condos. d) seems like people living in their single family detached home just don't want to move unless they have to. The single family homes occupied by the elderly are primarily located in the inner city suburbs. This living pattern on part of the elderly comes at an enormous cost to our community. The cost of home care (even though less than health care in a nursing or seniors home) is higher than it would be if we lived in a denser housing arrangement. In addition, the single family homes are underutilized and drive up the price of the available inner city suburb by not being available for sale. Why don't people want to move into an apartment building (condo or rental) when it would reduce much of the stress that results from taking care of a single family home. To me the answer is, apartments do not have any of the amenities that older people love and cherish. We need new apartment building designs that keep the elements of single family homes that the elderly love. 331 Osgoode has some of these elements, I think. In the next post I will explore the younger generations housing circumstance and the potential relationship to the housing the elderly. Just think of the opportunities of young and old being able to live in closer proximity to each other in really affordable inner city neighbourhoods.

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