Living out your years in the comfort of your own home may be the dream for many older Australians, but new research has found that a lack of preparation has become a major obstacle in achieving this goal. Majority of people have not done enough to modify their properties early on in life, which means as they reach old age they may be forced out due to avoidable safety risks in the home.
The Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA) released a report this week which found that despite wanting to remain in their home, only 17 per cent of older Australians thought their properties would need repairs or modifications to allow them to do so. And even among those who were already experiencing difficulties in their homes, only 40 per cent acknowledged the need for modifications to improve their quality of life and extend their home residency.
This sense of denial comes from a lack of public education surrounding the importance of home modifications that will ultimately protect older Australians from making rushed or unwanted decisions later in life, according to chief executive officer of GCMA Julianne Parkinson.
“For people who have identified the need to make changes around their home, our research identified key barriers to home modifications, including affordability and being able to find trusted builders and tradespeople,” she said. “The right industry partners could encourage earlier and more prudent conversations about home modification before an emergency arises.”
If left to last minute, home modifications can become an expensive yet inevitable hassle. However, early installation may allow room for better money spending habits, remove the pressing deadline for booking the right tradespeople and give you time to locate the best-suited technology and tools required for your individual circumstance.
Modifications can include a number of safety precautions for those with low mobility such as grab rails in slippery areas like the shower and bath, stairlifts, ramps, smart sensors, voice detectors, house-wide panic buttons as well as motion sensor lights, taps and toilet flush buttons.
GCMA’s research director Stuart Smith said that commonly, older generations of Australians are the ones who plan to avoid moving to aged care as the research from the report revealed that almost two thirds of those aged over 75 believed they would stay in their home, which was double that of the youngest cohort surveyed whose age ranged from 55-64 years.
“Helping people to remain independent in their homes is increasingly important,” he said. “However, we know that this may not always be possible, so it is also critical to understand how ‘home’ can be created in any place of residence.”
In response to the research, the GCMA has created a new framework which centres around transforming houses into haven-like environments which will determine the ‘right’ place for people as their circumstances change. To zero in on individual needs, the GCMA identified the seven needs for residents and their homes which include Choice, Safety, Comfort, Access, Independence, Connection and Happiness.
The framework is said to serve as a guide for everyday Australians when developing appropriate home modifications, as well as for the wider community when dealing with retirement villages and aged care facilities, particularly in wake of the suggestions for sectoral reform addressed in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
According to research from UNSW City Futures Research Centre, Australians are also choosing to avoid aged care by ditching private and public facilitates to move in with family members and create a new home known as multi-generational living. It’s a trend that has become an increasingly popular way of avoiding both the expenses of home modifications and the hassle of aged care all at once with research saying one in five Aussies are now part of a multi-generational home.
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