Senior Housing & Care’s Middle Market: Key Takeaways From Housing for America’s Older Adults 2023

The Housing for America’s Older Adults 2023 report includes a special analysis on the middle-market older adult. See key takeaways.

December 7, 2023

Middle Market  • Assisted Living  • Senior Housing  • Blog

This year’s Housing for America’s Older Adults report, produced by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and supported with funding from NIC, includes a special, independent analysis on the middle-market older adult. It underscores that the private and public sectors still have work to do to expand housing access and care choices for middle-income older adults as they age.

  • Harvard researchers revealed that only 14% of single-person households 75+ with moderate (middle) income can afford just four hours daily of in-home care, and only 13% can afford a move into an assisted living community relying on their monthly income only. Conventional wisdom that care at home is less costly than assisted living was questioned. In certain markets where homeownership and apartment rents are among the highest in the country (e.g. San Diego), assisted living is often less costly than staying in one’s home.
  • When looking at the three key accessibility features of single-floor living, no-step entries and wide hallways and doors, less than 4% of homes nationally fit the bill. The majority of older adults with middle-market incomes do not qualify for home modifications or maintenance because of program income limits. This speaks to a market opportunity for senior housing and care where settings are naturally designed for the older adult.
  • Two other takeaways include declining homeownership among 50-64 year-olds and rising mortgage debt among homeowners 65 and older. These findings reinforce the need for affordable housing and care options and options whereby home equity is not a requirement to cover costs.

While this study has important implications for the cost of in-home care compared to assisted living, the reality is that the aging demographic will necessitate a multitude of housing and care alternatives. The middle-market older adult cohort is severely underserved. This report can help providers, policymakers and other stakeholders better appreciate that continuing to live at home or pursuing many congregate residential care options are not financially within the reach of many. To advance choices and access for seniors, the private and public sectors must continue to work together.