Housing Needs and Ageing
“Most developed world countries have accepted the
chronological age of 65 years as a definition of older
(World Health Organisation)
Older people are not a homogenous group, so it is important that we recognise they will all have their own individual preferences when it comes to choosing how, and where they live.
Older, elderly, retired and pensioner are all terms used to describe older people. But being an older person, and the reality of managing the challenges that being older may present (either in chronologically or in health terms) can be quite different for each individual.
We know most people do not willingly describe themselves as an older person. We do not want to put older people into boxes and categorise them purely by age. What people consider to be “older” is constantly moving as society changes. People live longer and key measurements, such as the UK state pension age, continue to change.
The term “Third Age”, refers to those who are older or retired and coming into a new phase in their life – many creating new roles, travelling, attending further education etc. Many older people may also be supporting their children (financially or by providing free child care), they may be caring for elderly parents and many will still be working.
It is important for older people to be thinking about their housing needs. It is often a health crisis that forces people to consider their circumstances and look at their housing needs more closely. Illness, a fall or an unscheduled visit to the hospital is the first time many people will stop to consider if their house is suitable, both now and in the longer term. Even then the prospect of taking a major decision to move to a new home is often daunting, and many choose to stay in homes that may have become too large or do not suit their changing needs.
It is in this context that we encourage older people – especially when they are healthy and independent – to be thinking about their housing needs, and where, and how, they will live as they grow older.