Age-old housing solutions

City living: How designers are working to get more seniors in the city

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BUILT FOR PURPOSE: Ripley Town Centre is in a mixed-use masterplanned community which will include senior living and aged care. Photo: Artists impression

BUILT FOR PURPOSE: Ripley Town Centre is in a mixed-use masterplanned community which will include senior living and aged care. Photo: Artists impression

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Six trends that will better integrate older Australians into our cities.

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With more Australians than ever looking to retire, the hunt is on to come up with innovative housing solutions for the country's rapidly ageing population.

Eight in 10 people over 60 want to live and age in their own homes, according to research from Melbourne's RMIT.

And with a rise in vertical living and urban locations, many seniors are opting to downsize to conveniently-located apartments and inner-city developments.

Brisbane-based urban designer Craig Christensen, of Hatch RobertsDay, said the recent slower growth in Australia's population will boost the size of our ageing communities - due partly to COVID-19 which saw Aussies put off having children and fewer migrants entering the country in the short term due to border restrictions.

But he said there are many emerging housing and planning solutions that will better integrate older Australians into our cities.

"This is as much about housing as to how we design our neighbourhoods,' he said. Here are some trends to look out for.

Mixed-use 

Integrating over-55s housing more closely with the rest of the community will help older people avoid isolation and loneliness, and stay independent for longer.

An emerging trend is the incorporation of over-55s and aged-care living in major mixed-use masterplanned communities. The mixed-use Murdoch Health and Knowledge Precinct in Perth is being developed into aged care facilities, a medihotel, residential, commercial, medical and office facilities.

In Brisbane's south west, the new Ripley Town Centre in the masterplanned community is designed to include residential lots, retail space, an underground train station, hospitality venues, community spaces and a hospital, senior living and aged care.

Expect to also see the development of new buildings where a few floors are dedicated to over-55s living.

Multi-generational 

One in five Australians live in a multigenerational household, according to NSW research, and more than 500,000 properties in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane alone could build an additional self-contained unit of at least 60sqm.

Expect to see a growing trend whereby grandparents move into a granny flat or tiny house on their property - or a self-contained floor of the main house - while kids move into the main house with their families.

Universal design

It's estimated eight in 10 Australians over 60 want to live and age in their own homes.

Building more 'livable' housing, with accessible doorways and stairs, grab rails and step-free entrances, could reduce the need for care and promote greater independence.

Expect to see better designs that meet the needs of people during all life stages, but which particularly helps the older population 'age in place.'

RSL Life Care's Long Tan Village is a state-of-the-art vertical village situated within minutes of Newcastles bustling CBD and harbour foreshore.

RSL Life Care's Long Tan Village is a state-of-the-art vertical village situated within minutes of Newcastles bustling CBD and harbour foreshore.

CBD locations

Mobility is an important part of over-55s living, as it helps them live independently while integrating with the local community.

Expect to see more retirement units built above shopping centres, enabling residents to mingle with the community and have much of their needs met.

We will also see over-55s living in CBD and central areas putting residents within easy walking distance to theatres, major shopping precincts, high-quality restaurants, and a plethora of health facilities.

Urban gardens

Expect to see further growth in the number of urban community gardens.

These are mentally and physically beneficial for older residents who live in garden-free housing, and enables them to teach gardening and horticulture to younger generations.

Age-friendly precincts

Age-agnostic infrastructure, amenities and services in local communities are set to grow, such as accessible public transport, widespread street furniture and more public facilities (especially toilets).

Small parks and piazzas as well as levelled, shaded and wider footpaths can encourage seniors to leave home and feel safe in the community.

Canberra's 2020-2024 Age-Friendly City Plan aims to eliminate barriers for over-65s looking to stay active, socially connected and access health services easier.

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