The importance of making new homes safer for older people has been emphasised in a new report highlighting the benefits of dementia-friendly homes. 

Former Treasury economist Chris Walker has called for 30,000 additional specialist retirement dwellings to be built each year over the next 10 years which are specifically designed to make life easier for people as they get older. 

Building better quality housing is pivotal to help homeowners when they are less able to live independently, according to the report, which identifies a severe shortage of this housing.

Mr Walker highlights how poor housing is set to contribute to nearly one million more older people experiencing fall-related injuries, and that building these new homes could help save the NHS and social services £2.1bn annually. 

The findings form part of a research project for Homes for Later Living, a consortium of housing providers specialising in the creation of homes for older people. 

The Self Build Opportunity

Self built and renovated homes provide the opportunity to deliver dementia-friendly futureproofing to homes, including aspects that make them easy to adapt to in later life. 

Dementia-friendly homes include features such as:

  • good natural light to help people make sense of their surroundings;
  • safe flooring, excluding hazards such as rugs which could be tripped on
  • and safety equipment, such as grab rails and carbon monoxide detectors

Alzheimer’s Society is among those campaigning for industry bodies to change the laws around housing regulations so that dementia-friendly houses are standard. 

Mr Walker’s report addresses that many older people living in mainstream housing that isn’t equipped for their needs is where they are most likely to suffer from falls, dementia and social isolation.

Responding to the findings, Rachael Maskell MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People, said: “As people in the UK get older, there is currently a severe shortage of housing being built specifically for those in later life. The result is that many older people are often living alone in substandard accommodation, where they are more likely to suffer from falls, loneliness and dementia. 

“This is why we urgently need more specialist retirement housing. Building more homes across all tenures for later living every year would give people more choice and flexibility in how they live their lives.” 

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