“Housing is going to be an issue, affordable, accessible housing. Ones without stairs,” said Sanchez-Warren. “We have a lot of homes built in the 70s, not so great for people who are 70.”
Some are having a difficult time now due to rising rents no longer affordable on Social Security payments. Some are ending up homeless, or going into nursing homes, where care is paid by Medicare, but it is thousands more a month than rent would be.
“If you don’t have the financial resources, if you don’t have family resources, if you have a lot of different health problems. Aging gets really hard,” said Sanchez-Warren. The list of things adds up quickly. “Little things that we often don’t think about. House cleaning, bill paying, and then all the caregiver support.”
Then later in life, giving up driving can be very challenging. Men outlive their driving years by seven years says Sanchez-Warren; women by 10.
“How do you live your life the way you want to if you can’t drive?”
Even though she just retired, it is a concern for White.
“Continually in the back of my mind is about transportation,” White said.
“Helping people go to the doctor, helping people go to the grocery store but also helping people live,” said Sanchez-Warren. “Go visit their loved one in a nursing home, go to a beauty salon, get their hair done, whatever. That’s part of life. If you can’t do that and you’re always at home that’s not a good quality of life.”
The good news she says is that there is a segment of the economy developing to serve the aging population. It’s been dubbed the longevity economy.
Companies are working or producing robots to help people at home. More and more are using devices like Alexa that can take simple commands. They may help, but human contact is irreplaceable. While Colorado and America are falling behind in getting ready getting older can still enjoy what is most important; life itself.
“Aging is an honor. Not everybody gets to age,” says Sanchez-Warren.
SECTION: Aging Colorado