Top 8 housing needs of the over 65s
The evolving needs of aging populations18th Jul 2022
Better standards of living, coupled with advances in medical care and a more active lifestyle has meant people are living for longer. How to deal with an aging population that is expected to jump by as much as 50% in the next 20 years is a major concern for South Africa, as it especially places additional pressure on the supply and quality of housing.
Buyers are not only increasing in number, but they also have huge expectations about where and how they live. We spoke to two property developers to get a better understanding about the changing needs of the over 65 buyers.
Location is everything
According to Barry Kaganson, CEO of Auria Senior Living, developers should be building senior living communities in or expanding around existing metropoles rather than in smaller, remote areas like the Garden Route for example.
“We have seen that over 65 buyers now want to live in the same area as they did before hand, and close to their friends, children and grandchildren, who tend to live in big cities,” he says.
Size really does matter
Luxury lifestyle estates that encompass huge social spaces to facilitate a sense of community require a lot of land says Harry Pretorius, CEO, and founder of Noble Resorts.
‘Things like golf courses, large open expanses, lakes or walking trails means developers need to be mindful that the size of their chosen development can adequately accommodate these lifestyle concepts,’ he says.
This can be quite a challenge when developing in inner city areas where space comes at a premium. Developers should also be mindful of the sizes of their units. Despite downsizing from larger family homes, many over 65 buyers still struggle with their reduced space.
Quality, independent living is key
The biggest concern for older people moving into a senior living development is whether it will compromise their independence. A well designed and managed community should advance the quality of a resident’s life, taking care of things like maintenance, health, and security so homeowners can focus on what they want to do.
‘There is no doubt that people are the healthiest and fittest they have ever been so at Noble Resorts we have created an environment for later life living that meets this demand. We have five-star resort style living for example, with hotel amenities and unique wellness programmes to promote an active, healthy lifestyle,’ says Pretorius.
Getting the right care
While most residents may be active and independent, their medical and care needs can change at any time. Care can also mean many different things to different people, so it is important that a range of tailored services are offered.
‘We offer medical facilities on site that allow our residents to either stay in their own homes to receive care or move into a more intensive care unit on site,’ continues Pretorius.
As Kaganson explains, certainty of costs is a major factor for the retired or those nearing it. The balance between design and build is important as it has a direct impact on the monthly levies.
Residents especially do not want to be surprised with a special levy later. A good way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to ensure homes are built with sustainable solutions to combat things like load shedding and possible flooding.
Safe as houses
Physical safety is paramount to older people, but this extends further than just monitoring visitor access at the main entrance and patrolling perimeters. Things like panic buttons in every unit ensure residents have security against their wellbeing and not just crime.
‘We have a resident in one of our estates who suffers from early on-set dementia but enjoys taking a daily walk around the estate. Our security and nursing team know when she goes out and will know to look out for her if she is not back after a certain time. This allows the resident to maintain their independence but also gives them the peace of mind that help is at hand, without them feeling suffocated or constantly monitored,’ explains Kaganson.
Connectivity makes all the difference
‘We have found that buyers are looking to live more connected lives where friends and family can visit or live near to them. While it is important for homes to be built with the older buyer in mind, they do not want to live in traditional segregated retirement communities or old age homes; instead preferring a multi-generational lifestyle option,’ says Pretorius.
Finally, even though the official retirement age in South Africa is 60, most people living in or considering buying into a so-called retirement estate tend to still work. Therefore, there has been a conscious move recently to rename these type of living options, to that of senior living communities.