Most aging adults want to remain in their own neighborhoods as their housing needs change and their comfort level with driving wanes. But few of our newer communities provide a variety of housing options so that a senior citizen could, perhaps, downsize from a single-family home to an apartment without leaving the neighborhood. Fewer still provide good transit service or shops and amenities within a safe and easy walking distance—critical for seniors who can no longer drive. For example, my mother’s home was at the end of a long driveway in a neighborhood without sidewalks. When it became difficult and eventually unsafe for her to drive, she found herself more and more isolated. This is all too common among seniors. One of the answers to this problem—and maybe the most important one related to the built environment—is to build communities that contain a variety of housing types and prices, including facilities for seniors. Another is to build neighborhoods that are safe, convenient, and interesting for all, including nondrivers and people with special needs. Transit service is critical if people are to reach destinations beyond walking distance.
Kaid Benfield, from his book People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities