Later Life Living – Choice and Compromise

The debate continues about whether older people ought to move out of the larger homes that they’re under-occupying so that there are more family homes available, or if staying put with adaptations and the provision of care and support is a better option in most cases. There is plenty of comment on the subject, and in our work helping plan and manage moves we see many reasons for the later life move. Just over half of those classified as under occupiers are over 55, and a third of home owners over 55 are considering or expect to consider downsizing. These represent very large numbers, which often seem to be ignored as part of the debate about the future direction of housing and planning policy.

The older people we help to move home are a diverse cross section of the population, like any age group, and have varying needs and preferences. They’re moving home because they want to be nearer to family members, they want a smaller more manageable home, they want to be able to live in an environment with care on site, they’re returning to their roots elsewhere in the country, or they just want to be in a different type of area, more rural perhaps. Many of them will release equity when they downsize, which will be used for a variety of purposes as they plan for their later years.

As we work with older clients we also see that there is often a lack of choice for the older person wanting to move home, meaning that where they move to can involve a greater or lesser degree of compromise. This is true for all ages of homeowner, but for this section of the population getting the right type of home in later life, when they usually don’t want to think about moving again, or their health is not what it was, seems even more important.

If we’re asked to source suitable places to live by our clients it’s clear that provision can be patchy across many parts of the country. For example some of those we work with would like to have moved to a more integrated environment where care is available, but have had to settle for finding a home on one level and then seeking a support package; others want high quality independent retirement living but can’t find it near where they would like to be.

We look forward to a time when the range and extent of good quality homes for those in their later years means that having to compromise is a thing of the past.

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