How Laguna Beach, California, is helping residents age in place

Laguna Beach, California

Luciano Lejtman | Moment | Getty Images

When most people think of Laguna Beach, California, they think of its scenic coves and beaches.

But the small coastal city — with a population of around 22,600 — is also pioneering a new model for elder care.

About 77% of adults ages 50 and up hope to stay in their homes long term, according to AARP. In Laguna Beach, the rate is even higher, with about 90% of residents, according to Rickie Redman, director of the city’s aging-in-place services, dubbed Lifelong Laguna.

The program, which provides services through a hometown nonprofit, was piloted in 2017. Lifelong Laguna is based on the Village movement, where aging in place is encouraged with community support.

The Laguna Beach program aims to fulfill a specific need for a city where approximately 28% of residents are age 65 and over, while local assisted living and memory care services are scarce.

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Many of the older residents have lived in the city since they were in their 20s and 30s, and now find themselves in their 70s and 80s, according to Redman. Many of them trace back to the city’s artistic roots, she said.

“They make this city unique,” Redman said. “They’re the placeholders for the Laguna that we now know.”

Notably, there is no cost for the city’s older adults to participate in most of the services.

The program, which currently has around 200 participants, relies on grants and local fundraising, according to Redman. Its services address a wide range of needs, including a home repair program the city operates in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, nutrition counseling and end-of-life planning.

Other cities have also adopted community support models for residents who age in place through the Village movement. That includes tens of thousands of older adults in 26 states and Washington, D.C., according to Manuel Acevedo, founder and CEO of Helpful Village, which provides technology support to seniors and participating communities.

Retirees confront high costs to stay at home

The high costs of aging in place are one of the biggest obstacles that prevents older adults from fulfilling their desire to stay put, experts say.

About 10,000 baby boomers are expected to turn age 65 every day until 2030. An estimated 70% of those individuals will need long-term care services at some point, according to Genworth Financial.

In 2021, the highest year-over-year increase in cost was in home-care services, Genworth’s research found. The median annual cost for in-home care was $61,776 for a home health aide to provide hands-on personal care and $59,488 for homemaker services to help with household tasks.

Those costs have been influenced by supply and demand, according to Genworth.

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How Laguna Beach, California, is helping residents age in place

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