Caring for an ageing population should be based on the principle that everyone has the right to control their own lives. There is now a greater need to be more creative in planning the way we support older people in the future and a key element in our planning must be the provision of age appropriate housing that helps people maintain their independence for longer. That is where downsizing into a retirement property can help.

"Nowhere is the need for better

information more

critical than when it comes to housing for older people."

Yet, nowhere is the need for better information more critical than when it comes to housing for older people. The thought of ageing and deteriorating health can be a huge source of worry – many people would worry about becoming a burden on their family, so downsizing and moving to ‘age appropriate housing’ has to be one of the options that people consider.

But are people aware of all the options available to them? What will be the impact of downsizing socially and financially? What types of retirement properties are available?

Having access to clear, thorough and easily-accessible information can help relieve some, if not all, of these concerns. Unfortunately, the sector makes things more complicated by marketing retirement property under a plethora of names. Retirement living, assisted living, sheltered housing, very sheltered housing and extra-care are all names given to different housing products, so it is not surprising if older people find the marketplace confusing, which can then lead to anxiety and stress over the situation.

To clarify, each of these types of housing product are very different from residential care homes – we are talking about self-contained properties and most people who downsize into property that follows the ‘extra-care’ model will never need to

move to a care home .

Those living in extra-care properties, on average, spend less time in hospital than those of equivalent age living in standard retirement properties, meaning pressure on the NHS is also naturally reduced. Should a person

develop health or care needs while living in an extra-care environment, help can be delivered more quickly and effectively. With a standard level of support

built into the service charge, additional help, such as personal care services, can be added if a person finds themselves in need of it.

And it is not just personal independence that is maintained but also financial independence if you are buying a retirement property. With each resident owning the home they live in, this in turn enables them to protect their equity – again, giving further peace-of-mind for the future.

Overall, extra-care living offers a number of benefits for both those who choose such properties and their families, thereby reducing the risks around personal, financial or health-related concerns in the future, all of which can impact a person’s mental health in the process.

So, while making the move early might be daunting as people worry about becoming ‘old’, in doing so, people can future-proof their retirement, allowing them to remain as independent as possible until the time comes when they may need a little more help. - 17 -

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