HOUSING OPTIONS: Prof. Colleen Cartwright was a keynote speaker at the Gerontology Rural Conference in Ballina.
HOUSING OPTIONS: Prof. Colleen Cartwright was a keynote speaker at the Gerontology Rural Conference in Ballina. Rebecca Lollback

Boomers criteria surprises expert

BABY Boomers must start thinking about their post-retirement housing options before it’s too late, an aged care expert has warned.

Colleen Cartwright, a professor of Aged Services at Southern Cross University and director of the Aged Services Learning and Research Collaboration, spoke at the Australian Association of Gerontology Rural Conference in Ballina yesterday.

She talked about research she had been doing on housing needs for people over 60 living on the North Coast, and said the results were surprising.

“By 2016, many local government areas on the North Coast of NSW, including the Far North Coast, will have 30 per cent or more of their populations aged 60 and above,” she said.

“But quality of life is more than just having somewhere to live.”

The common belief that retirees want a stand-alone house in the bush with a deck and garden was no longer true, Prof Cartwright said.

Older people were looking for independence, privacy, affordability and safety.

They also wanted to be close to town so they could walk to the doctor, library and shops.

“Instead of a two-bedroom place, they would prefer a one bedroom unit with a larger living area, so there’s space for a fold-out couch if they need a short-term carer to stay with them,” she said.

“Our research also shows that older people want to live in a cluster of about six to eight units.”

Prof Cartwright said Baby Boomers should start thinking about where they would like to live after retirement.

“I know many who say they would never go to a retirement village,” she said.

“So what do they want? We need to start investigating this. The time to act is now.

“We shouldn’t wait until the situation reaches crisis point.”

Providing affordable housing options for seniors was another important issue. Although 80 per cent of people aged 65 and over owned their own home, they were ‘asset-rich and income-poor’.

“The direct provision of public housing is by no means keeping pace, even though the demand for housing is increasing,” Prof Cartwright said.

“Currently we need about 128,000 additional dwellings in Australia every year.

“There are less and less affordable housing options for those who really need it ... some of the conditions that people are living in are pretty poor.

“Sea changers and tree changers have pushed up the cost of rental properties yet the number of people needing access to rental accommodation is increasing.”



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