COTA SA cares deeply about ageing well and is committed to ensuring older South Australians have the opportunity, capacity and ability to navigate the changes of ageing in their place of choice. Housing strategies provide an opportunity to deliberately plan to support South Australians to age well, now and into the future.
Secure housing plays a critical role in the health and wellbeing of older South Australians, but a variety of factors mean that it is rapidly moving out of reach for an increasing cohort. Insecure housing is compounded by ageism, long periods of underemployment prior to age pension eligibility and poor health. A recent study found evidence to suggest that, “challenging housing circumstances negatively affect health through faster biological ageing.” The study further found that the reversible nature of biological ageing means that there is significant potential for housing policy to improve health outcomes, having flow on effects to public health services and expenditure.
The majority of older people want to age in place and stay in their own homes as they age. Enabling this includes housing that is affordable, adaptable, accessible and close to amenities. It is important this does not preclude older people making a choice on the type of housing they can live in. Like older people themselves who are diverse in their lifestyle preferences, incomes, identity, cultural background and relationships, there is not one-size-fits-all model when it comes to our housing needs as we age. Older people want to access a diverse range of housing options including private rental, owner-occupied properties, retirement village living, residential parks, lifestyle villages, social housing and residential aged care. It is crucial that older people can choose the type of housing that is right for their needs. This includes not placing an expectation on older people that they down-size at a particular point in their lives. The strategy must enable a variety of housing options suitable for all ages and abilities.