How can elder care communities deliver desirable but cost effective places to live?
This is a great challenge about an issue that will face our societies more and more. Here are some of my thoughts.
1. Combine elder care and daycare facilities
I've seen this done in a few countries, and I thin it works wonders. Both the children and the elderly get so much out of spending time together, and the resources needed to care for them together are less than those needed for independent care.
2. Rethink the "single-generation home" model that's so prevalent in the US
In many countries, it's common for elderly people to live with their adult children, who may have their own children too. The multigenerational household has many advantages, but it is less common in the US, for many reasons (e.g. households are wealthier and can afford to live independently, it's less of a societal norm...).
The government can incentivize this, and I suspect it would be a lot cheaper than paying for separate housing or nursing homes.
3. Create living communities in the countryside
In the countryside, land is inexpensive and more cost-effective than in densely-populated urban areas. Avoiding the pollution of the city is another benefit.
4. Construct new living communities based on tiny houses
Tiny houses are much less expensive than traditional houses, but they enable seniors to maintain their independence.
5. Prioritize high-density housing for seniors, as opposed to individual units
Again, this affords individuals more independence than, say, outright communal living in group homes, but it's more cost-effective than individual units.
6. Some group homes may be necessary. Perhaps we can find a way to frame them as communities.
Community is one of the biggest drivers of longevity, and yet, for many elderly people, it's lacking. If we can prioritize ways to create community, such as clubs, associations, or shared dinners, people could feel more important and valued.
7. We outsource so many jobs. Is there a way to kindly outsource elder care in a way that benefits most people?
Coming from a U.S. perspective, I'm thinking of countries with 1) a good security situation, 2) labor surpluses, and 3) where many people speak English. If the U.S. government were to fund overseas nursing homes, maybe there's a way for them to be less expensive than current models.
8. Elephant in the room: in the U.S., we need to revisit our broken healthcare model
Although it does have its benefits, the U.S. healthcare system is more than suboptimal for hundreds of millions of people. In summary, the incentivizes are misaligned in so many ways, the profit motive often comes before health, and, consequently, everything is outrageously expensive. If our government could do one thing that would effect meaningful change, tackling healthcare would be it.