A better fit? Creating housing choices for an ageing population
By: Nicola Hughes Published: April 2012
England’s population is ageing, and fast. By 2030 one in three people are projected to be aged 55 and over. Older people will be a diverse group, ranging from economically powerful ‘baby boomers’ to over-85s with high care and support needs. How will the housing market respond to this demographic change? Do we have the right kinds of accommodation for older people, in the right places?
There are approximately 14.7 million older people and 7.3 million ‘older households’ in England today. These are households where everyone is aged 55 or over. Most are couples or single people living alone; in particular there are many single women aged 75 or over.
Many older people want to stay in their current home for as long as possible and have strong emotional ties to their home, possessions, or neighbourhood. Moving house can be a very daunting and stressful experience for some older people, and they are often unaware of their housing options, or simply perceive that there are no suitable homes available for them.
Few strategies exist to ensure that they will all be able to live somewhere decent and affordable that meets their changing needs. There is also very little recognition among policy makers of the wider socio-economic benefits of such provision. For older people themselves, the fear of the unknown and the lack of suitable and attractive options present further barriers to more widespread downsizing.