There has been a ‘significant’ increase in older people living alone, but millions are failing to adapt their homes to help them live independently, think tank finds.
A new study from the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) found since 2005 there has been a significant increase in the number of 45-64 year olds living alone (500,000) as well as the number of 65-74 year olds in the same situation (300,000).
ILC-UK’s report, entitled The State of the Nation’s Housing, also said less than half of those over 50s with a limitation in an Activity of Daily Living (ADL) live in homes with any health-related adaptations.
The study emphasises the importance of retirement housing as a solution that can meet the needs of an ageing population, but it warns of a shortage.
Those in retirement housing are more likely to be living in homes with adaptations than those who do not. Approximately 87% of those in retirement housing have home adaptations, by comparison to around 60% of other housing, ILC-UK learnt.
According to their calculations, however, there could be a retirement housing gap of 160,000 houses by 2030 if current trends continue. By 2050, the gap could grow to 376,000.
‘Our report highlights that there are millions of over 50s with care needs who haven’t adapted their housing for old age and may be in homes too big for them,’ Baroness Sally Greengross, ILC-UK’s chief executive, said.
‘Retirement housing could be a solution for some older people but we are building far too few of this type of housing.’
Baroness Greengross urged the Government to ensure that planning better supports and encourages home adaptations.
‘If older people are to live longer in their own homes we must better support older people to make adaptations to allow them to continue to live independently in their own homes.’ she said.
‘A freeze in the current rate of stamp duty might also encourage more over 50s to move to homes better suited to their current, and future needs.’ the Baroness added.