Elder Standard Measures Real Cost of Living

Article excerpt

What is an 'adequate income allowing older adults to age in place? How does it vary according to elders' life circumstances-whether they are living alone or with a spouse, rent or own their home, drive a car or use other transportation? How do living costs change as the health status and Ufe circumstances of an older adult change? What happens if an older person needs long-term care to keep living at home?

To answer these and related questions, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Gerontology Institute launched its Elder Economic Security Initiative in 2004, in conjunction with Wider Opportunities for Women, to provide an objective, reality-based benchmark of elders' basic living costs today, measured by community and life circumstances. The initial result of this ongoing program was the recent publication of two reports aimed at raising public awareness about the challenges elders face and providing a helpful and realistic evaluation tool for policies and programs designed to help low-income and moderate-income elders stay in their homes and communities.

The 5O-page report On the Edge-Facing a Challenging and Uncertain Future: The Elder -Economic Security Standard for the Boston Area, the first application of what the project calls the Elder Standard, documents the impact of high living costs on older adults in greater Boston. The companion report, Elder Economic Security Initiative: The Elder Economic Security Standard for Massachusetts, places the issues into statewide perspective. Now in its second phase, through 2008, the initiative is expanding the applicability of the Elder Standard to Illinois, California and Pennsylvania. Additional national funding is also pending, and some states are seeking resources for their efforts. …