A recent report by RIBA highlights the need for ageless design and homes that are accessible to all ages

According to a recent report from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), within five years the over 60’s will make up over 25% of the English population, and by 2041 5 million of the 6.6 million projected increase in the English population will be in the over-65 age bracket.

While this is a trend that is set to continue, the report states that housing that is currently being built is failing to cater for the needs of our ageing population. A Home for the Ages: Planning for the Future through Age-Friendly Design has found that 24% of people over the age of 55 are considering moving, but 49% of this group said that they were prevented from doing so because of the lack of housing options.

A report by @RIBA states that housing that is currently being built is failing to cater for the needs of our ageing population #ahomeforthe ages #agelessdesign Click To Tweet

The report reveals that this inability of the over 55s to downsize when they wish to has been largely ignored and is having a profound effect on society at large. Not only is the lack of appropriate housing for the over-55s set to take its toll on the NHS, with the cost rising to nearly £1 billion per year by 2041, young families are being hit by the fact that larger houses aren’t being freed up for them to move into.

The report also draws attention to the fact that young people are moving to cities, while older people are staying in small towns and villages, so housing demands in those places are likely to change as the local populations age.

Calling on the UK Government and the construction sector to tackle this ‘hidden’ housing crisis, the report recommends ‘mainstreaming’ age-friendly design so that all new-build housing is accessible and adaptable, as 95% of people over 65 live in mainstream housing.

It says that research to identify the kind of housing that older people want to live in needs to translate into equivalent public policy. Highlighting the fact that many older people are motivated to move in preparation for the future and not for immediate health issues, it draws attention to a YouGov poll of 4,000 adults on behalf of the Centre for Ageing Better. The poll found that people believed all homes should be built to be accessible for all ages as a minimum standard. It also revealed that a number of the features that make a home accessible were also considered desirable attributes by young people. Creating designs that are ‘ageless’ and both aesthetically pleasing and practical for all would seem to be the achievable goal.

Age-friendly housing also needs to have access to public services so that people don’t become isolated and can be more engaged in living, working and socialising with others. As older people are able to keep economically and socially active for longer, they will then be less dependent on public services.

The report serves as a reminder that taking all generations into account will have a positive impact on entire communities.

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