More than 10,000 of our grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads, retire each day in the United States to pursue the passions they may have had to put aside while they were caring for us: reading, gardening, volunteering, spending time with grandchildren. By 2035, for the first time in our nation's history, the number of Americans 65 or older will outnumber children.
Though they enrich our lives and our neighborhoods immeasurably, our seniors’ ability to stay in their homes with dignity is not assured. Stairs get harder to climb. Repairs are harder to afford. Perils build over time. How many of you worry about getting a call that your aging loved one has fallen? I know I do. How we as a compassionate nation respond to the growing needs of our elders is a defining moment for this generation. If we fail to show up on this issue, we will resign them to a growing hardship at the very moment when they need our help the most.
The good news is that there are many organizations across the country that are working hard to rethink the systems of support we need in place to make sure we all have what we need as we age. This week, I was thrilled to speak to hundreds of strong, adaptive leaders paving the way for solutions at the Tennessee Health and Housing Summit, sponsored by our partners at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis.
Habitat is starting to turn its decades of homebuilding expertise to the work of addressing the housing and health needs of seniors – providing the meaningful home repairs and adjustments needed to keep our loved ones safe in their homes. But real impact comes with scale, so they asked me to provide guidance on how to make the strongest case to partners and funders for their work. I share some of my points here, in hopes that they can be helpful to a strong and growing field of changemakers working on aging in place solutions.