With 11.8m people aged over 65 in the UK, the options available to those in the later stages of life have never been more important. Independence and dignity are key themes of concern for many of those whose housing options change as they become frailer. This has prompted Silk Road to survey 200 of those aged 70 and above in order to gain insights into their priorities for retirement living arrangements.
James Fenner, Founder and MD of Silk Road (pictured above), said: “We didn’t want to make assumptions about what older people want from their retirement accommodation, so we took the time to find out first-hand what their priorities are.
“This is essential data for those building retirement homes and communities for our ageing population – we need to be building the right kinds of homes to suit those who will be living in them and when it comes to promoting independence and dignity, the right design can make a huge difference.”
The Silk Road team found that making adaptations to a person’s current home to enable them to live there longer appealed to 84% of respondents. This highlights the importance of companies that can bring technology into existing premises, from stair lifts to fall detection floors which contact a nominated individual should they detect a fall.
Survey respondents identified being able to be self-sufficient and maintaining independence for as long as possible as top priorities. For those considering moving into a retirement home/community, compassionate care and access to outside space were among the key considerations. 92% of individuals felt that the healthcare facilities on offer were either very important or quite important, while 90% flagged up the importance of cost.
Lifestyle facilities were ranked as very important or quite important by 85.7% of respondents.Of those, fast WiFi/broadband topped the list of what’s important, as the internet continues to provide a way for tech-savvy older people to engage with the rest of the world.
James Fenner added: “Leisure facilities, while popular with those aged 70 and above, are not the priorities when it comes to retirement home living.
“While many new developments are focus on swimming pool and spa facilities, our research has found that lounge areas and reading rooms are more important to this age group.
“It’s crucial that developers take account of such details when planning the space allocated to facilities in new retirement home projects.”
In terms of leisure facilities, the Silk Road survey found that, after lounge areas and reading rooms, a bar was the most important consideration for the majority of older residents. That was followed by a swimming pool, cinema, gymnasium and spa. The human element of the environment was also important, with 83.3% of people ranking a sense of community as being very or quite important to them.