The average life expectancy of a senior citizen in the United States (that is, someone who has reached the age of 65) is 18.6 years, or roughly age 84. Between 2000 and 2030, the number of adults age 65 and over is expected to double, from 35 million to more than 70 million, resulting in a U.S. population that is comprised of 20 percent older adults. Most older adults and their families and caregivers prefer to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible. Further, they believe that with appropriate care giving resources, physical design changes, and accessibility to needed services, conventional residences can accommodate individuals with all types of limitations and chronic health conditions, allowing older adults to avoid or delay leaving their independent housing for a higher level care such as a nursing home.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides critical housing resources to low income elderly households. More than one-third (37 percent) of the approximately 5 million households receiving housing assistance from HUD are headed by an elderly person (defined by HUD as at least age 62). Indeed, just over one-quarter of elderly households leaving HUD-assisted housing between 2000 and 2008 were aged 85 or older when they left. HUD would like to learn more about the demographics of elderly residents the agency assists, the ages at which these residents leave assisted housing, and the strategies that could enhance elderly households’ ability to live safely and comfortably in HUD-assisted housing for as long as possible. To inform strategies to encourage and monitor such “aging in place,” HUD requested that Abt Associates undertake this research on elderly households’ “end of participation” (EOP) in HUD-assisted housing programs.