A think piece calling for a fresh look at under-occupation and housing in later life.

This think piece is one of series produced for the Hanover@50 debate.

It laments the refusal of many people aged over 65 to recognise they are ageing, aggravated by a misinterpretation of ‘ageing in place’ in the UK. The latter has seen retirement housing regarded by policymakers and many potential customers as a place for those with significant health and care needs – and has thereby exacerbated the sector’s poor image. We have been distracted by arguments around under-occupancy marred by ageist overtones.

The paper says:
• Asking older people alone to downsize is ageist: we should be discouraging under-occupation through life
• Older people are often in denial about the realities of ageing – and therefore what downsizing and specialist housing could offer them
• Older people will move if they are offered housing options that will improve their quality of life and potentially improve their health and social care outcomes in later years
• Local authorities have seen retirement housing as largely for those with existing care needs, exacerbating the sector’s image problem
• We need to build more homes if we want to encourage downsizing – we could make things worse for first-time buyers if they and older people chase similar smaller homes.

Author: Dr Dylan Kneale with Sally-Marie Bamford and David Sinclair

This paper and its summary are also available to download from the Hanover@50 website.

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