New Build Homes Should Reflect The Needs Of Ageing Population

72% of the population believe that new homes should be built so that they are accessible for all ages and abilities.

Basic requirements for older home owners should be considered by construction companies, especially as the population continues to age and those over the age of 65-years become an increasingly larger percentage of the population. According to the Lancet Health Journal, those aged 85 plus, requiring 24-hour care, will double by 2035.

Furthermore, it predicts that a million people aged over 65 will also need similar 24-hour care by 2035, putting a complete strain on an already struggling health system.

The study highlighted the fact that the fastest growing demographic in the UK is elderly people aged over 85. This trend is unlikely to change with estimations that current numbers of 1.6 million people will increase to over 3 million people by 2035.

When the health authorities are currently struggling to provide care for the 2.4% of the UK’s entire population that is already over 85, it will be unable to provide provisions as this section of society increases. Providing basic home changes, like wider doors for wheelchair access, could enable older sections of society to remain independently in their homes for longer.

According to a recent poll, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Centre for Ageing Better, 48% of 4,000 respondents disagreed that the UK authorities and society do enough to support independent living as people age.

33% of respondents would appreciate new homes being built with disabled friendly features like handrails, level access entrances and walk-in showers with 28% of 25-34-year-olds also considering their later life by feeling encouraged by these potential inclusions in new homes.

According to the poll, 45% over those over 65-years-old feel a growing anxiety about struggling with everyday life in their current home without making changes to access. Additionally, 61% of respondents feel that their current home would be impractical for them in later life and impossible for them to live in, without making significant changes, if they developed a disability.

The Centre for Ageing Better believes that significant changes need to be made to UK housing policy so that they consider the basic changes to new build property that have the potential to enable longevity in regards to independent living.

Currently, only 7% of UK homes meet basic accessibility standards with 20% of homes deemed non-decent for the ageing population currently residing in them according to the updated  English Housing Survey.

Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “The woeful state of today’s housing stock is amongst the worst in Europe. With more and more people living for longer, and many of them managing health conditions, this situation is unsustainable. We are facing an accessible housing crisis, putting unnecessary pressure on individuals, families and public services. If we do nothing, this will only get worse.

“There is a big market for homes that everyone can live in, regardless of their age or ability. Our research shows a strong public appetite for age-proof homes which enable people to live active and fulfilling lives – whatever their situation.

“We need everyone responsible for building new homes to get on board and give people what they want. National rules must be strengthened, and planners within local authorities must work with developers and builders to enforce them. As we seek to build more homes, we must make sure that they are suitable for everyone.”

Should building standards further adapt building policy to reflect the UK’s ageing population and the reasonable adjustments that they would need to live independently for longer?  

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