Vital Aging Network

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Housing and Transportation

A vital community provides opportunities for a continuum of housing from owning a house to shared-community housing to assisted living to residential-care facilities.

Whatever the option for housing, focus should be on individual independence and mutual dependence among community members. If individuals live in a place where everything is done for them and they do not use their strengths, they wither. At the other end of the continuum, if they live in an environment that is consistently beyond their coping ability, they face great stress. M. Powell Lawton, a leader in aging research, called the goal person to environment fit. A vital community needs to help individuals assess their housing needs, and subsequently, to find ways to match housing with their physical abilities and personal needs.

Many older adults do not want to spend their lives devoted to the care and feeding of a house. The Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman writes that the boomer generation got caught up in a period of unprecedented housing inflation and bought into the myth that housing values always go up. She describes how many households no longer want to devote so much time to paying a gargantuan mortgage on a mini-mansion.

Too often, we depend upon automobiles as our only mode of transportation. The quality and availability of alternative transportation varies greatly from location to location and makes a big difference in the quality of life in a community. Community planners and housing developers must work with transportation planners to connect housing with transit. The village concept recommends building multihousing units over and adjacent to clusters of basic commercial services and transit.

 

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