Montgomery County Seniors Need Better Housing Options, Experts Say

A panel of experts met with the Montgomery County Council Tuesday to discuss the needs of the county's aging population.

Montgomery County's population is aging rapidly and traditional means of caring for an elderly population will no longer suffice, according to a panel of experts on aging and senior adult issues.

The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday met with the panel for a discussion about the future of Montgomery County's aging population. The panel's thoughts echoed : the dynamic of the nation's aging population is changing— older adults are working longer and want to remain active members of the community. For many older adults, nursing homes and institutionalized caregiving is on the way out, while a familiar theme of diverse housing based around transportation and accessibility is in.  

“Creating walkable communities where people can live independently from the automobile, frankly, is essential," said Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large), of Silver Spring, after the presentation. "A lot of times there’s a discussion that when we create multifamily housing – apartments, condos – we’re catering to this hipster crowd in their 20s. But there is a large demographic that we’re also catering to.” 

The American Association of Retired Persons counts nearly 845,000 in Maryland and 144,000 in Montgomery County alone, according to Hank Greenburg, AARP Maryland state director. But while Maryland has lead the way in many healthcare initiatives, the state falls far behind in providing long-term care and housing options for seniors, ranking 45th in the nation Greenburg said.

With 90 percent of aging adults wanting to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible, Montgomery County should focus on “aging in place,” Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, told the council.

The county needs to create opportunities for housing and transportation that suit aging adults, while providing multiple alternative care options, Markwood said. The county should look at diverse options including zoning communities to allow for easy access to transportation, for remodeling existing houses, to include accessory dwellings and to add homes with provided services. 

“If you want to go forward and stop dead in your tracks, come out with a big plan of "Here is a house for seniors," and try to sell that," said Elinor Ginzler, director of the Cahnmann Center for Supportive Services in Rockville. "But if you say, 'Here is a house for all, no matter what your age, whether you’re trying to carry in a wide screen TV or roller blade out the door, or you need a walker, this is the design for you'— that’s going to work.” 

With a focus on outdoor spaces, transportation, housing, social and civic participation, employment and health services, the county will be better able to meet the needs of its aging population, the panel said. 

“Look at this as meeting the needs of the current population of older adults and the future population of older adults, and recognize that it’s not static," Markwood said. "When you do that you’re investing in the future of all generations." 

Theresa Defino March 14, 2012 at 01:32 PM
This story doesn't say the county would be spending any money on any of these options. I am glad to see attention paid to seniors, and especially their housing needs. Rockville hopefully will soon have Victory Court available for them.
Johnny Lucid March 14, 2012 at 05:23 PM
County Government probably ought not spend any money in this arena; presupposing, that is, that most MoCo retirees who might opt for "aging in place" have ample resources of their own.
Jeff Hawkins March 14, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Being one of those "aging rapidly" MoCo seniors I can say that there aren't many "affordable" options for us. If you have been lucky and maybe never "refinanced" your home and it's paid off, or hit the "lottery", or inherited some funds or maybe you are just well off from your own hard work and good career path then it might be possible to live out your "golden years" here (and hopefully vacation alot :). If you don't qualify for any of the above and are just one the many "working stiffs", raised a large family, refinanced a few times (out of need), have not hit the lottery yet, no rich relatives or are not a Doctor, a Lawyer or Scientist.......then you are probably going to have to leave the area for good. That's the reality! We need more "affordable" housing.........nice stuff in nice areas....NOT next to the Raliroad tracks or next to the County dump. Victory housing is a good thing, Beall's Grant II would have been a good thing. My two cents.....
Sharon March 14, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Jeff, right on the mark! And you're two cents was worth @ least a buck in this economy. LOL! The existing so-called assisted living homes they have in the County (and nation-wide for that matter) are for those (magnificent but vulnerable) elderly with substantial funds. In order to 'qualify' (not quality to be considered 'aging' heehee 'cause I'm right up there with ya, Jeff!) but qualify for needed care, you have to sign over just about everything (including your soul) you own to facilities' Directors and Board members to line their pockets in their lucrative 'field' of caring (milking) the elderly & family members and taking away any opportunity for 'well-intended mom and dad' to leave their hard-earned money (accrued during their younger life when their life's ETHIC was that the 'world didn't owe them a living') to their children, grandchildren or great grandchildren! I could at the moment name one specific Assisted Living facility near me that has 'quite a business' going on but I will refrain. Hummm!
Tom Elliot August 01, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Yes, even if they're already seniors, they also need to have access to better housing. This is the same reason why adult family homes are built like the typical home.


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