Tomorrows Retirement World - up in the clouds?
Image courtesy of Architizer.
The retirement homes sector needs to keep up with demand. It makes up just two per cent of UK housing stock, with only one per cent of those in their 60s living in retirement homes, compared to 17 per cent of US in this age group.
By 2037, one in four Brits will be over 65, compared to one in six now, and the government is unlikely to build affordable housing for the baby boomers who own so much of the UK’s housing wealth.
Newly developed retirement village properties, which can be bought on a long-term lease, has filled the gap to a degree, and its reckoned that around 25,000 older Brits currently live in them.
Good quality housing, that helps older people live happy and healthier lives, delays the need to move from independent living into residential care. This cuts the pressure they could put on the NHS and unlocks valuable housing stock at the top end of the market.
Developers of new-generation retirement homes have shown images of rotating and vertical gardens for year-round planting, robot carers and virtual pets, to show what retirement housing could look like in the future: customisable homes, with glazed doors letting the indoor and outdoor intersect.
Retirement villages already have on-site nursing and assisted living facilities to help residents with everyday tasks, and some offer specialist medical care.
Many are marketed as bespoke villages, with swimming pool, gym, restaurants, hairdresser, golf course, cinema, green spaces and 24-hour concierge service.
But while the USA has 38,000 retirement settlements, UK developers always face the challenge of available land.
Older people want to live in or near cities and towns, so these properties of the future need to be built in urban and suburban areas, with easy access to local amenities.
While we clearly need our architects and designers to dream up innovative forms of retirement housing and care services to respond to these trends, if there is going to be enough decent housing for retirees, we may need to learn to fall in love again with high-rise accommodation.