Monday, October 4, 2010

Older Americans are willing to downsize homes and work longer to maintain lifestyle

Boomers have also redefined what are necessities instead of luxuries.

One of the most influential groups in modern history–the Baby Boomers–changed the fabric of American life and are in the forefront again, in housing and what they define as basic needs.

More than 35 million Americans are age 65 or older and the home ownership rate is 80 percent, according to the Aging In Place Initiative. Older Americans are willing to downsize their homes to maintain a certain lifestyle.

Rather than moving to warmer climates, most want to stay in the communities where they live, work and raised their children. MainStay Investments found that 47 percent of older Americans surveyed would downsize their home and work longer to maintain what they consider basic needs.

Traditionally those would be food, clothing and housing. Now, those basic needs include a far more eclectic mix. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed reported having an Internet connection is a basic need, and 66 percent felt that shopping for birthdays and special occasions is a necessity.

Pet care is considered a necessity for 51 percent of respondents while 50 percent feel that taking a vacation once a year is a need, not a luxury. The list also includes weekend getaways, professional hair care, education and dining out.

Many of these needs do make sense; because families can be spread all over the country, the web helps keep them connected with each other’s lives. Pets have become another source of emotional support when families no longer have a local connection.

But the age of excess is over and older Americans, never very good at saving, must continue to re-evaluate what is important and make adjustments for a future in an uncertain economy.

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