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Older Australians’ housing needs 03/09/2016

Our population is ageing, which means providing appropriate housing for senior Australians is an important issue.

Our population is ageing, which means providing appropriate housing for senior Australians is an important issue.

A recent study by the Productivity Commission (PC) into the housing decisions of older Australians found that many older Australians prefer to age in place and are happy to stay in the family home, even if it is considered too big for their needs.

In fact, the report found that, on average, people are not moving into residential aged care facilities until they are over the age of 80. These types of facilities are increasingly considered an ‘end of life’ option when care needs are high.

Older Australians are also more likely to cut daily expenditure as their finances become tighter rather than realising the equity that is embedded in the family home through selling and downsizing to more appropriate accommodation.

There are a number of reasons why older Australians remain in their current home, but one of the biggest is their attachment to the local community.

People’s desire to age in place means that they would prefer to remain living in the same community and while they may consider downsizing to a smaller, more appropriate home within the same area, there are a number of barriers in place to doing so.

Some of these barriers include the high cost of moving due to transaction fees as well as the lack of availability of more appropriate housing within the local area.

Providing a range of housing options in new and existing areas provides people with choices when it comes to the right housing for them.

Many older people are active into much older age so may be looking for housing that can adapt to their needs over time. They may also be looking for easy access to services and amenities close to home.

There is also a growing cohort of people aged between 50 to 80 years who are ‘empty nesters’ looking for either seniors living or regular apartments that they can ‘lock and leave’ and are low maintenance.

This is where the development industry has a role in providing a range of lifestyle choices for older people.

There are companies providing dedicated seniors living developments that have a high level of amenity while other developers are integrating a range of amenities into their mainstream developments to assist ageing residents such as health clubs, concierge and cafes.

It is important that planning policy facilitates a mix of development types within existing and new areas so we can do more to accommodate our ageing population within their own communities.

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