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New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Thomas L. Friedman Got it Right!

Posted: July 30, 2012

Thomas L. Friedman got it right in his excellent article in July 29’s New York Times Coming Soon: The Big-Trade Off.  The reality of a rapidly aging population in the U.S. will have major repercussions for our society.  He speaks about the impact on foreign aid.  At Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, on a daily basis we think about its impact on the demand for our services and how our society’s failure to plan will leave many seniors without decent options.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects a quadrupling of the population over 90 years old by 2050.  Inevitably, with so many people at an advanced age there will be more people with frailties—physical and/or cognitive.  Mr. Friedman argues for technology and a reliance on family members to support our elders, to minimize the need for institutional (nursing home) care. 

Affordable supportive housing developments—where seniors can safely “age in place” without the loneliness or excessive burden on family caregivers—is a responsible option and the least costly  Our non-profit, non-sectarian organization developed and manages 1200 apartments, 1100 of which are subsidized for low-income seniors.  For those, we have wait lists of 4-7 years—and that’s particularly frustrating for the large number of seniors who apply when they need an immediate housing alternative.  Our few market units, serving the middle class, will see an even bigger gap between availability and demand as baby boomers enter their late 70’s and 80’s.

We can get ahead of this curve if we want—and Mr. Friedman’s articulation of the challenge is a great first step.

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