Green Senior Living & Lifestyle Choices: Five Ideas for Eco-Minded Elders

senior citizen at a bus station

Some estimates suggest that the 85 and older population is going to more than triple over the next 40 years. And yet the environmental movement rarely discusses their need as a separate demographic. Today’s seniors, as well as seniors in generations to come, may be wondering what they can do to join the green movement and live more sustainable lives.

Often, green living is focused around activities like growing a garden or riding bicycles: activities that may be out of reach for some later in life (although there are, of course, exceptions). Here are a few changes seniors can consider to help reduce their ecological impact while improving their quality of life.

1. Use Public Transportation

Senior citizens already make up a significant percentage of public transit users. But, for seniors who regularly drive themselves across state lines to visit family or even just across town to the store, taking a train or bus instead is an simple way to reduce one’s ecological footprint! Everyone knows public transportation is more efficient than driving a personal vehicle, but it can also be less stressful and safer than driving.

Additionally, Greyhound and Amtrak both offer senior discounts.

2. Consider In-Home Care

Hospitals provide a high standard of care in emergencies and in extreme circumstances, but the majority costly hospital visits can actually be prevented by receiving assistance at home. Hospitals are huge consumers of all kinds of resources, generate enormous amounts of toxic wastes, and are all around uncomfortable. In home non-medical care is growing in popularity all over the U.S. and for good reason.

According to Derek Jones, a Certified Senior Advisor with Griswold Home Care, older adults who receive regular in-home care have fewer hospital stays because they reap the benefits of frequent, personalized care. Minor issues are caught before they become serious, and the footprint (and heartache) associated with frequent hospital stays is greatly lessened.

3. Consider Community Living

For many seniors it makes sense to consider community or assisted living, but these don’t have to resemble One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest! Many communities offer private apartments with no stairs, beautiful gardens for daily strolls, and central activities like games, movies and crafts. Shared resources, and less need to travel can be a huge reduction in footprint during your golden years while lessening your stress and helping you to meet new people.

4. Consider an Energy Audit

Until recently my grandmother lived in the house she grew up in. It was a gigantic, drafty old thing, and she would have saved a ton on energy and increased the resale value if she had had an energy audit.

Sealing off the outside, upgrading heating, lighting and appliances, and increasing insulation just makes sense in terms of frugal living, physical comfort, and the environment, and some communities offer senior-specific grants.

5. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts to Buy Local & Organic

Many seniors don’t know about or take advantage of programs like the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program which provides “low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs.”

farmers market in jackson mississippi

Don’t know what eco perks are available in your community? Call a local farm, food coop or farmers market and they will likely be able to help you out!

Stephanie Warren is a writer for Griswold Home Care. In over 160 locations nationwide, Griswold Home Care provides non-medical home care services to older adults. From just a few hours a week to 24-7 care, Griswold Home Care provides trusted and professional care to families’ loved ones across the country.

Image credits: rekyt at flickr cc;  nataliemaynor at flickr cc

  1. Diane C

    I happen to be a senior citizen and have taken advantage of a couple of these options. I credit them with being able to stay in my home. My mother, however, refused help and is now in a nursing home. My advice to anyone, as they grow older, is not to close off options available to you.

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