hands of an old grandmother preparing dinner for her grandchildren

Trend Snapshot

Shifting demographic trends, including Americans living longer and healthier lives, will lead to changing housing preferences and needs as Americans seek to accommodate different family structures and varying abilities. By 2034, older adults 65+ will outnumber children 18 and younger for the first time in history. The United States is also becoming more diverse, with increasing numbers of Americans identifying as members of communities of color.

The share of adults living alone increases sharply with age, which means communities will experience dramatic increases in the number of older adults living by themselves. In 2019, 2 million households headed by adults aged 65-79 (and another 1.5 million headed by adults over 80) reported having difficulty navigating or using their homes. Yet, amid this sea of change, our existing housing stock has remained relatively stagnant, often prioritizing the production and preservation of single-family homes, developed with the nuclear family in mind. In spite of this, individuals are typically reluctant to plan to make home modifications so that their homes will meet their future mobility needs. Without consideration of these changing demographics, the mismatch between housing supply and consumer needs will widen, leaving many older adults with a sub-optimal housing options.


  • Increased interest in the housing needs of the 50+ means finding a receptive audience for solutions. Educational opportunities include:
    • Awareness of home features that support aging in place
    • Supporting the needs of in-home assistance and caregiving
    • Benefits of multigenerational housing
    • Expanding the availability of a variety of housing types such as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
    • Home-sharing options
  • The supply of age-friendly housing should grow both in new construction and retrofits.
  • Demand could lead to lower costs, increased accessibility, and new design innovations.
  • More influencers touting and demanding innovation.
Cheerful male and female toasting drinks during birthday party in house


  • Individuals are often reluctant to move.
    • Staying in the same home over a long period of time may lead to housing situations that no longer meet their needs.
  • Evaluating different housing options can be confusing and overwhelming.
  • Older adults may remain in their larger homes for longer, exacerbating affordable housing constraints.
    • Tight housing markets not only reduce the availability of homes but can lead to younger generations resenting older adults and the larger society, because they believe that they will never be able to find or purchase a home that suit their needs where they want to live.
  • Sole-person households can lead to social isolation.

What Can Be Done?

Local legislators can make changes to zoning, and land use regulations can support more supply and more varied housing types within communities.

State and local governments can make changes to building codes to include incentives for adoption of Universal Design features.

State and local governments can allocate funds to assist low-income homeowners with financing home modifications.

Advocates can spread awareness of the need and positive impact of certain types of housing, such as affordable, manufactured, and multifamily, and put pressure on local legislators to take action.

Architects, designers, and developers can encourage clients to consider Universal Design features in all new builds and modifications.