Andrew Whitson is the Group Executive and CEO of Retirement Living at Stockland, a top three retirement living provider with over 12,000 residents nationally.
Whether you want to stay in your family home, downsize and join a community of like-minded people, or want the security of having additional care and support for later in life, there are several living options available to suit ageing Australians today.
Although many assume that older Australians are one homogenous group with all the same needs, this is far from true.
The motivations or changes in circumstance that lead to an individual or couple considering a new housing option as they grow older differ from person to person.
1. Combatting loneliness
Many older Australians will choose to downsize from their family home as they feel isolated and are struggling with loneliness or a lack of community. You or your loved one might be craving a sense of belonging – maybe because your adult kids have moved out of home, or you’re readjusting after the loss of your partner. Living somewhere that encourages connectedness – whether that’s a small urban apartment, a home close to family or a socially inclusive community like a retirement village with like-minded people – gives you the opportunity to foster new relationships.
2. Ease of lifestyle
An easier lifestyle can also be a significant factor in people’s decision-making process. Many would prefer to downsize to a lower-maintenance home that requires significantly less gardening, cleaning or repairs as they get older. Many also feel that their home has become too large for just them and their partner, and that maintaining their family home will become quite costly as it continues to age and requires additional upkeep.
3. Safety and security
Safety and security can also be an important factor for those considering the living options for themselves or their loved ones later in life. Moving into a well-connected and gated community can be a huge comfort for many, particularly those living alone. Travellers and those who like to regularly visit family and friends will also want to feel comfortable locking up their home and knowing it’s safe and secure. This peace of mind will also extend to family and friends.
4. Access to care
For many people, a health concern or change in lifestyle needs will be the catalyst for the move. When looking at the possibilities, it’s important to research the care options available now and into the future. Can the home become wheelchair accessible?; Are in- home care services available nearby?; What about if aged care is needed later on? These are all important questions to consider.
Whether it’s for one of these reasons or a mixture, it’s important to understand the different housing options available to you that can meet your needs now and into the future.
Will housing options continue to evolve?
According to the Retirement Living Council, Australia’s current over 65s population of 3.2 million is projected to reach 8.1 million by 2050. Based on current projections, more than 5,000 new homes per year are required to meet the demand for seniors living as Australia’s population ages.
At the moment, only five to six per cent of people over 65 choose to live in a retirement village in Australia, which is proportionally a fairly small percentage compared to other countries.
Stockland is focused on meeting this demand by consistently delivering quality and innovative communities to meet the needs and aspirations of retirees.
Where to next?
When considering the different options for later in life, the first decision should always be around what you’re looking for. Are you looking for independent or supported living? How much care do you need? Are you looking for an independent lifestyle or a community environment?
Once you have some clarity around your needs, you can consider which of the following options would best suit you.
- Staying in the family home – for some, it may be best to stay in the family home if you’re managing your day-to-day life well, maintaining the house, feeling connected and able to access the care requirements you need in-home.
- Downsizing – moving into a smaller house, townhouse or apartment can offer you the benefits of lower maintenance and an easier way of living; however, it doesn’t necessarily offer new benefits in terms of community connection.
- Retirement village – for those looking to foster relationships with others of a similar age and with similar interests, then a retirement village can offer a fantastic sense of community and a range of activities, as well as the safety and security that comes with living alongside like-minded neighbours.
For more information, head to Stockland’s website at stockland.com.au to see what’s on offer.
Accommodation to suit you
As you or your loved one gets older, why not work through each of these key points one by one to help decide on which option would be best?
- Acknowledge that how you think about your needs today will be different to what you need in four to five years time. For example, while you might feel comfortable and independent in your family home now, would a decrease in mobility make it too difficult to maintain the day-to-day tasks within your home?
- Take time to think about housing options and have the discussion with your family. While it’s tricky to discuss, ultimately your family need to be part of the conversation, as they’ll likely become more directly involved as you get older.
- Compare the different options available and consider how they’ll suit you. This could mean spending time talking to people so you can understand how each model works, and whether the financial side, as well as the lifestyle and care aspects, are right for you.
- Consider moving into a retirement village earlier to enjoy the lifestyle and social environment. This gives you the opportunity to build up those relationships with others in the community, so that when your care needs do change you have a strong support network around you.
- Visit villages and talk to people who already live there during ‘open days’ so you can hear from residents themselves, as opposed to just hearing from the operators.
- Figure out what is most important to you and what you need – from being close to family, to companionship, to support and care through aged care services.
Remember, no-matter what accommodation suits you, Apia has insurance products especially designed for the over 50s, visit www.apia.com.au for more information.
What to remember
When deciding on your housing later in life, it is not just a financial decision. It’s important to also consider your lifestyle and the social factors associated with your living situation as you age. Seek financial advice to better understand your monetary situation moving forward. As well as your budget, aim to find the right option that best suits your current needs, and future needs.