Thinking of moving to a retirement village when you hit 55?

Are you thinking about moving to a retirement village when you hit 55? No? If you’re like me, the thought of slowing down and moving into a retirement village at 55 couldn’t be more remote!

And our data tells me that I’m not alone in this view.

Our Inside Aged Care Report is run annually. It gives us national trends and preferences in aged care – what do people and their families want?

In the last 2 years, there has been a large move towards people wanting to age at home. This trend continued into 2020 and is growing. The low levels of trust in the industry likely influence this extensively. Only 22% of Australians have a high degree of trust in the age services industry. There are also high levels of apprehension and concern among those facing the prospect of accessing aged care services.

Since 2018, an increasing % of people agree that ‘the government should focus on ensuring that people can age in their own homes’. This trend is true both for those needing aged care services and their families.

This growing demand for in-home care services is strong among 50 to 59 year olds, and even stronger among 60 to 69 year olds.  In this age group, demand for in-home care services in the next 10 years has increased from a reasonably steady 46% and 44% respectively in 2018 and 2019, to a significantly higher 59% in 2020.

So if people want to stay home, what does this mean for the industry?

The risk is that there will be many people on their own at home. This means that their physical and mental wellbeing need to be looked after in a different way. It is well known that isolation has a detrimental impact on mental wellbeing. Plus declines in mental wellbeing have a direct impact on physical wellbeing. In-home care providers need to take this into consideration, with serious discussion needing to take place.

The industry must embrace technologies that can help

Movement monitoring systems are a great option as they can detect changes in patterns, and alert family members when needed. An example of this is Intelicare’s InteliLiving product

Voice activated systems and devices can act as quasi-company for an older person, or as a way to activate emergency contact if needed eg Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Don’t forget the social dimension

And providers also need to think about the social aspects of their product offer, embracing the human element of what they do. People to people contact is so important and nothing has told us this more than COVID isolation!

Where does this leave retirement villages?

These demand shifts have had a negative impact on the market for ‘over 55s villages’, which show a steady downward trend in demand over the last three years.

In fact, interest in retirement villages has the highest demand among people over 70. People in their 50s show far less, and fast reducing interest. And if you, like me, are approaching that age, I repeat the question – are you thinking about retiring anytime soon? I feel like I’m just reaching my potential!

So retirement villages need to reinvent themselves, acknowledging the target market and repositioning product and service design to appeal to a more receptive older audience.

Understand the audience better

The industry must commit to more research with the older age demographics to find out what an ideal retirement living environment looks like. People over 55 are not all the same and should not be categorised as such. But this happens far too often. Choices, lifestyles, influences, behaviours … these are very different between a 55 and a 75 year old. Let’s distinguish between the cohorts!

Personally as a 50 something, I’m thinking that a house with all my friends would be amazing, as long as they’re prepared to put up with whatever ailments transpire over time.

This article appears (in similar form) in the LASA Fusion magazine, and this issue was presented by Tracy Armson, Diretor at Faster Horses at a Property Council Retirement Living Breakfast in October 2020.

Veronica Mayne is Managing Director, Faster Horses.

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