How an Aging Population is Changing our Cities

Local and national governments have long focused on making communities good places for families, children, young adults and the disadvantaged. But as America ages – by 2050, it is estimated that more than 32 million Americans will be over the age of 80 – there is a demand for national planning on how to best care for seniors and the elderly while avoiding a national debt crisis.

Chronic disease, disabilities, and the need for personal care will place a financial stress on governments. And as retirement takes place en masse, fewer workers will be left to fill in the gaps and pay for pensions.

Many are calling on national governments to face the music when it comes to the growing population of seniors. KPMG’s recent Global Healthcare Practice Report says that without a national agenda, the healthcare systems of many countries could become overwhelmed.

Local governments will also need to plan for the aging population in their own communities. According to Richard Florida, managing editor of The Atlantic magazine, American seniors are mobile, willing to move long distances, and attracted to urban centers. Cities hold the same appeal for older people as they do for younger; amenities and attractions such as transit, museums, restaurants, and parks are desirable. These communities will need to plan accordingly for aging populations, insuring they are prepared to take care of them.

But it’s not just governments that need to be planning; it’s individual citizens, too. A recent poll of Americans over 40 by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that two-thirds have done little or no planning for their future as they age. Three in ten say they’d rather not think about it; only a quarter think it’s very likely that they will require assistance in caring for themselves. Not so. Figures show that close to 70 percent of Americans will require a form of long-term care at some point after turning 65.

The Real Truth Behind “Reality” Real Estate Shows

As reality programming continues to dominate the television world, real estate shows have proven to be a real hit among viewers. Shows such as Million Dollar Listing, Love It or List It, House Hunters and Property Virgins all depict the experiences of real people looking for real homes.

As it turns out, however, those experiences aren’t always so real. The process of buying a home – in real life – isn’t quite as simple, and the houses aren’t as well designed, so television must find a way to exaggerate, sugarcoat and package the story so viewers will want to watch.

Take the example of House Hunters. In 2012, a Texas family who appeared on the show revealed its inner workings. It is said that two of the houses the family apparently considered actually belonged to friends, and were not even on the market. The homes were chosen because they were attractive and clean. HGTV released a statement that cleverly avoided confirming or denying the family’s claims.

Most shows glaze over the details of buying a home beyond tours and making an offer. You’ll never see buyers applying for a mortgage, or real estate lawyers going over paperwork. And TV buyers never seem to walk away from a home – something that often happens in reality when a home inspection reveals deal-breaking problems.

But the goal of these shows isn’t to depict real life, despite their claim to be reality television. Instead, they serve as a pleasant distraction from everyday life. At their best, perhaps they inspire viewers to take better care of their own homes.