Why Age-Friendly?

Many of New Jersey’s towns are great places to grow up. They also need to be good places to grow old, and here are Seven Reasons Why

  1. Because New Jersey’s Population Has Changed – And So Have Older Adults’ Needs and Desires

    As of 2017, 1.4 million New Jersey residents were at least 65 years old. Nearly 200,000 were 85 or older. (i NJ Future Research)

    New Jerseyans over 55 now make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s population. (i)

    Not only are older generations growing at a faster rate than those in peak child-rearing years, so too is the so-called “millennial generation.” (i)

    Nearly 80 percent of Americans over age 50 say they want to remain in their homes and communities as they age, and more than half of adults age 18 to 49 also state this preference. (ii AARP Preferences Survey)

    Nearly a third of New Jersey’ residents over 65 living outside of institutions has a disability of some type, (iii American Community Survey)

    Nearly half of adults age 50 and older say they will never move from their homes, while at the same time one in three homeowners think their homes would need major modifications to accommodate them in later years. (ii)

    Older adults outlive their ability or desire to drive by an average of seven to 10 years, and each year more than 600,000 older Americans must resort to transportation other than driving (iv Driving-Mobility Study)

  2. Because Many Communities Weren’t Built for People to Age in Place

    Roughly 700,000 people – or about 30 percent of New Jersey residents aged 55 or older –- live in large-lot, car-dependent communities. (v Creating Places to Age Report)

    About 12 percent live in municipalities with no local bus service at all. (v)

    Only 30 percent of the state’s housing units contain four rooms or fewer – the type of affordable housing needed by young people starting out and older people seeking to downsize. (v)

    There are four metrics used to gauge aging-friendliness: compact neighborhoods with diverse housing types; downtowns with homes, shops, restaurants and entertainment close to each other; walkable and well-connected streets; and good transportation options. Almost 300,000 people over 55 – or about 13 percent of all older residents in New Jersey – live in one of the 109 municipalities that score poorly on all four metrics. (v)

    In an AARP poll of adults over age 50, 40 percent of respondents reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods and half said they cannot safely cross main roads close to their homes. Half of those who reported such problems said they would walk, bicycle or take the bus if those problems were fixed. (vi Complete Streets Study)

    New Jersey ranked 47th among the 50 states in per-capita spending on projects to improve walking and biking, allocating only the equivalent of 42 cents per resident, according to a 2016 report. States ranked in the Top 10 spend between $3.98 and $11.58 per person on walking and biking projects. (vii Walking-Biking Benchmark Study)

    People over age 65 accounted for 24 percent of all traffic fatalities in New Jersey between 2005 and 2013, despite representing only 14 percent of the population. (vii)

  3. Because It Makes Good Business Sense

    Despite representing only 36 percent of New Jersey’s population, people over 50 accounted for 48 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product in 2015, which in turn supported 54 percent of New Jersey’s jobs and 47 percent of state and local taxes. (viii NJ Longevity Economy Report)

    Over-50 households in New Jersey spent $188.9 billion in 2015, which represented 57 percent of all consumer spending in the state. (viii)

    In the next two decades, U.S. adults over 50 are projected to increase their spending at more than twice the rate of younger adults. (ix Silver to Gold Report)

    The 75 million- strong U.S. baby boom population already dominates many spending categories nationwide, including health, entertainment, travel, and fitness. (ix)

  4. Because We Will Have and Need a Different Type of Workforce

    People over 50 represent 36 percent of New Jersey’s workforce. (viii)

    The proportion of the worldwide working-age population who are 50 or older will grow from 20 percent in 2010 to 30 percent by 2050. (ix)

    More Americans 65 and older are working than at any time since the turn of the century, and a significant majority of U.S. boomers say they plan to work past age 65 or to not retire at all. (ix)

    At the same time, with more people living to advanced ages, the United States by 2030 will be short an estimated 151,000 paid, direct caregivers and 3.8 million unpaid family caregivers. (ix)

  5. Because Too Many Older New Jerseyans Are Already Struggling

    Older adults still in the workforce or with sizeable pensions may have money to spend, but many others have incomes that fall under the “economically secure” index. To meet that standard, older New Jerseyans who live alone and are in reasonably good health would need incomes of about $29,016 a year if they rent and $41,016 if they own homes with a mortgage. (x Elder Economic Index Report)

    Yet, the average annual Social Security benefit for a single senior citizen in Bergen is $18,065 per year, and for an estimated 30 percent of New Jersey seniors, Social Security is the only form oof income. (x)

    The median amount of savings among U.S. households near retirement age is just $14,500. (xi Grantmakers in Aging Report)

    Half of all householders over 65 are spending more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing costs, making New Jersey the most unaffordable among the 50 states. Nationwide, only one-third of 65-plus householders are above that cost-burdened threshold. (v)

  6. Because Older Adults Are at Risk of Social Isolation – and Community Design Can Play a Role in Worsening It.

    In almost 337,000 households in New Jersey, a person over age 65 lives alone. (iii)

    Older adults are more likely to experience bereavement and encounter health problems that increase their need for social support and companionship. Older adults who experience social isolation have higher rates of chronic illness, depression, suppressed immunity and cognitive decine. (xii Social Isolation Study)

    New Jersey ranks 21st among the states in the overall health of its older adult population. (xiii Senior Health Report)

    The state fared worse in two important measures of social engagement among older adults – ranking 42nd in rates of physical inactivity and 45th in volunteerism. (xiii)

    In the past two years, depression rates among New Jerseyans over age 65 increased by 30 percent. (xiii)

    Researchers have linked older adults’ loss of transportation independence to decreases in socializing, volunteering, shopping trips, entertainment outings, or other engagement outside the home. (iv)

  7. Because Families Can and Do Support One Another But Need Communities to Create Better Access for All

    There are about 1.1 million family caregivers in New Jersey, who together provide over a billion hours of care for an estimated economic value of over $13 billion. (xiv Caregiving in NJ Report)

    An estimated 58 percent of baby boomers provide financial assistance or help with daily tasks to their parents, and 93 percent provide some form of financial support to their adult children. (vi)

    An estimated 62 percent of older adults give financial assistance to their grandchildren, 13 percent provide regular care for grandchildren, and about 20 percent live in multi-generational households. (xi)

    Research shows community residents crave more intergenerational programs. Nearly two-thirds of Americans think that senior centers and schools/universities should be creating opportunities for youths and older adults to interact; 89 percent believe serving both children and older adults at the same locations is a good use of resources; and 79 percent believe the government should invest in intergenerational programs. (xv Intergenerational Programs Study)

    In the first national study of neighborhood parks, adults over age 60 represented only 4 percent of observed park visitors, even though they make up 20 percent of the general population. The same study revealed that neighborhood parks have few programmed activities for older adults and that adding enhancements such as walking loops and specially geared classes could attract more older users. (xvi Neighborhood Park Study)

To see the sources for this data and learn more:

  1. NJFuture Research
  2. AARP Preferences Survey
  3. American Community Survey-NJ 2017
  4. Driving-Mobility Study
  5. Creating Places to Age report
  6. Complete Streets Study
  7. Walking-Biking Benchmark Study
  8. NJ Longevity Economy Report
  9. Silver to Gold Report
  10. Elder Economic Index Report
  11. Grantmakers in Aging Report
  12. Social Isolation Study
  13. Senior Health Report
  14. Caregiving in NJ Report
  15. Intergenerational Programs Study
  16. Neighborhood Park Study

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