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Housing and age friendly communities policies for future direction - A stepped approach

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Altmann, E and Travers, MH and Doherty, K and Robinson, A (2017) Housing and age friendly communities policies for future direction - A stepped approach. In: International Research Forum – Multi Owned Properties, 9-10 February 2017, Melbourne. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Population aging is a significant issue for Australia and across the globe. Not only is Australia’s population predicted to almost double over the next three decades to around 40 million people (ABS, 2012), the current profile is for those in the 65 years and older age bracket to increase from 3.2 million in 2012 to 11.1 million by 2061 (ABS, 2012). This reflects an overall percentage increase from approximately 13 % of the current population to just over 25% of the predicted population as those born during the baby boomer period reach retirement age. Significant tension exists between past and current housing policies and the move towards age friendly communities. These tensions need to be highlighted and resolved if older Australians are to undertake the roles allocated to them in later life such as working, volunteerism and family assistance, remaining active, healthy and able to contribute to society in later life.
Existing housing policies place emphasis on urban consolidation through increasing housing density particularly in middle ring suburbs. There are frequent calls for older people to give up their three bedroom homes in established middle ring suburbs to make way for ‘working families’ and move into apartments. This continued focus on working families has left little room for discussion of the housing needs of older age groups. There has been an associated failure to address the needs growing numbers of elderly people living in apartments despite known links between health and housing, particularly for an increasing number of elderly renters expected to reach 800,000 by 2050 (Sharman et al. 2016). Dementia, and age related illness affects both home owners and renters. It has gained prominence as a key health, aged care and social policy challenge. It is predicted to become the leading cause of disability in Australia by 2030. While aged and dementia care places have increased, they have decreased as a percentage of the population. Current policy targets are that by 2050, 85% of the predicted 960,000 people with dementia will live in community (AHWI).
It is not possible to support the elderly, including people with dementia in community without taking their housing needs into account. Accordingly, we undertook semi structured interviews with representatives from peak housing organisations and advocacy organisations to assess how well prepared their membership were for the changing demographics and associated health care needs with an emphasis on dementia. Included in the sample were strata managers. We present a comparison between the different organisations with a focus on strata managers as an organisation that provides support and advice to the committee of management on a range of issues but also enacts committee requests.
We found that where the peak body nominated a person who had personal experience of dementia, then there was a greater understanding of the needs of people with dementia and how it would impact on their organisation’s membership. Additionally, we found that of all the organisations, strata manager representatives were more familiar with and could more easily identify a growing trend for older people to live in apartment buildings and that this trend related to both owners and renters. They noted that physical changes to the common property were sometimes requested and/or carried out to meet the needs of aging owners. This trend dovetails with current urban densification policies indicate a move away from younger age groups being located in apartments and flats.
There is a significant push for age and dementia friendly communities at federal, state and local government levels. Developing age and dementia friendly housing needs to be a central part in this process. Though principles for universal design were discussed across all rental housing sectors, the design principles best understood related to physical changes rather than cognitive change. This finding supports the need for better understanding and training related to an aging population in which dementia is a key age related health and housing issue.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Housing, Apartment, Strata Management, Age Friendly Communities, Dementia, Property Management
Page Range: pp. 1-2
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2017 02:54
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2017 02:54
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