Lawrence Frolik is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and an expert on housing options for the aging. In a classic article laying out the parameters affecting housing needs of the aging, he points out that:
Younger individuals often look upon retirement as a homogenous age period; that is, everyone over the age of sixty-five is about the same. This is inaccurate. Gerontologists like to classify old age into three periods: the period from age sixty-five to seventy-five sometimes called the 'young old'; the period from age seventy-five to eighty-five sometimes called the 'old'; and the period post age eighty-five, sometimes referred to as the 'old old.' The division of old age into three periods highlights the reality that old age can conceivably extend for thirty years, from age sixty-five to ninety-five. Over that potential thirty-year plus span, the wants and needs of the older individual will change. More specifically, their housing needs will change.
Frolik notes that the needs of the 'young old', recently retired and for the most part in good health, tend to be controlled by their desires and interests -- hobbies, climate, travel, family -- rather than by physical concerns. The next group, the 'old' who are seventy-five to eighty-five, are more influenced by health, safety and frailty issues. The third group, the 'old old', are most likely to need assistance to live independently. Interwoven with the variations in physical need of these three groups are the limitations imposed by dwindling disposable income, and the increasing need for community as spouses and friends pass away.
In the context of these three stages of aging, Frolik notes that, "As a result of ...[the] special needs of the very old, many who purchase a 'retirement' house when they are in their late sixties find that in their eighties they need to move again, this time into congregate housing or an assisted living facility."
Frolik has authored or edited a number of books, the most recent of which is listed in the "Interesting Reading" column on the right side of this blog.