Results: 2011 Aging in Place in Lake Oswego Study

The Secret to Aging presented by Tania ‘Lola’ Rain
To order the complete study or to schedule a presentation, please call 503-867-5244 or email taniarain @

Management Question: What Do Lake Oswego Boomers Want and Need?

Lake Oswego, OregonHOUSING
Is Lake Oswego an aging community, or do residents plan on living elsewhere after retirement? Over 55% of Boomers indicate they are very likely to extremely likely to continue living in Lake Oswego after retirement and 20% are somewhat likely to stay. More than one resident in this study said they will die before leaving their current home and several said they will stay in their current home until they can no longer live independently. Many residents said they would like to downsize into smaller, one-level, single family homes. The median size home of respondents interviewed is 1,850 SF. When ask to describe their ideal residence to age in, approximately 70% described a “home” environment and nearly one-fifth of respondents described a “community” environment. In a national study of people over 45, AARP showed 80% want to remain in their own homes even when they need assistance. Today in Oregon, less than 8% of seniors live in long-term care (LTC). In the future, this number could grow as high as 20% creating an opportunity for the LTC industry to develop attractive communities for Boomers.

With one in every two Americans managing a chronic illness, it is important to understand how Boomers prefer to receive care in their elder years. The American Institute on Aging reports an average couple will spend $215,000 on health care during their retirement years. More Lake Oswego residents prefer to hire caregivers than depend on family members, which will increase their healthcare spending. Residents who have cared for an elderly family member report they do not want to burden their children with the stress of being a caregiver. More than one-quarter of those surveyed said they will consider using community services and over 20% will consider specialized housing only when they are no longer able to live independently. Surprisingly, more than one-fifth of Lake Oswego Boomers have not considered this. What will residents do if they cannot financially support their healthcare needs as they age? Are in-home caregivers able to meet the needs of our Boomers? What alternative solutions are on the horizon? The opportunity is ripe for economic development in this arena.

The majority of Lake Oswego residents are very active, especially outdoors – 80% walk, run, hike, or bike and over two-thirds garden. A combination of physical, mental, social and civic activities can prevent chronic illness and disease. Preventing illness also reduces the cost of medical expenses. Sixty percent of those surveyed belong to fitness clubs. When it comes to social activities, one-quarter of people belong to a church and 30% belong to interest groups. Half of all respondents partake in the arts and 1/3 continue educational activities, both of which support mental fitness. Other activities reported by respondents include volunteerism and political activism. As residents age, engagement is critical to wellness. Encouraging community participation, creates a healthy environment. The structure and strength of the Adult Community Center (ACC) resonates within the City of Lake Oswego. Over 70% of Boomers are aware of the location and services of ACC and over 70% see a need for the services offered by ACC. However, only one person surveyed and one person interviewed indicated using ACC. The overall impression received was that ACC is for older people who need “senior services” as opposed to active adults looking for community and social interaction. It was also implied by several westside residents in the Lake Forest neighborhood that the distance to the ACC hinders usage. Can ACC meet the needs of the aging Boomers? What other business models can offer residents a choice of wellness activities? Wellness reduces long-term medical expenses thus allowing residents to thrive and live financially stable lives.

Over two-thirds of residents are interested in technology that will allow them to age in place; however, early adopters are needed to explain the benefits of the monitoring systems. Nearly half of Boomers indicated they are not sure of the value of a technology that would help detect illness and prevent falls, and 20% said they would be willing to pay under $100 a month for it. People see the benefit, but don’t yet see how it will fit into their lives.

Only 30% of Lake Oswego Boomers are confident their retirement savings program will allow them to live the lifestyle they want after retirement and 20% to 30% say their savings is not adequate at all. More than half of respondents believe Social Security will be a vital supplement to their retirement incomes. This is concerning because retirement will curb spending further impacting economic growth. National studies indicate 55% of Boomers have less than $100,000 in savings and 10% will depend 100% on Social Security. Financial challenges impacting a large portion of Boomers will need to be addressed by both the private and public sectors. The financial crisis is far from over. For many, retirement is not an option.


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