home / corporate information & news / news / better housing can help tackle the crisis of loneliness in older people

Search news

Press release search form

16.09.16- Better housing can help tackle the crisis of loneliness in older people

16 September 2016

In some parts of the UK, 80% of over 55s say they feel isolated, but well-designed transport public spaces and street furniture can make a difference.

More than a million older people in Britain claim to always or often feel lonely.  Demos' recent report on building companionship also found that those over 80 are twice as likely to experience severe loneliness as other age groups.  It is truly disheartening to think of so many Britons spending their twilight years feeling disconnected from their communities.

The impact of loneliness is significant and well documented- from poorer mental health to a greater risk of falling and hospitalisation.  As Britain's population rapidly ages, there is an urgent need to ensure we are putting the right foundations in place so older communities will be able to live sociable, fulfilling and healthy lives.  Innovative and sensitive planning and the design and provision of good quality housing will both be critical to achieving this.  We must put both people and place at the heart of our planning system.  We must also face up to the fact that isolation of this kind is a public health risk, with significant social and economic costs.

It is clear then that ensuring a larger number of older people are able to live in housing that has a design and ethos suitable to supporting and creating sociable communities, is going to be an increasingly crucial policy opportunity.  More broadly, this thinking should be extended to underpin a more creative and community focused approach to planning, which better reflects the specific needs of different demographics.

For example, through the creation of "cities for all ages”, which would seek to ensure that things like transport, public spaces and even street furniture are designed to better enable older people to remain socially, physically and mentally active.  There are a number of small-scale schemes, such as Gloucestershire Villages and community agents, Rotherham social prescribing scheme and living well in Cornwall, that have helped to address isolation among older citizens.

Older generations could benefit from greater exposure to the connectivity offered by the internet- research found that while the young tend to use it for socialising; older people predominantly use it for connecting with their families.  Schemes should be put in place that develops older peoples IT skills.

There's no doubt that elderly isolation has cost implication for the NHS, social care and the wider economy, making it both an economic and social concern.  Public and private investments in housing and new urban planning initiatives need to be sensitive and responsive to this, an ensure designs have a sense of community and social interaction at their heart.

Jo Grundy of Priory Asset Management commented, "We have for some time expressed concern at the shortage of specialist accommodation for those people who are over 55 and have continually supported the thought that by developing specialist housing it will free up existing housing stock." "Not only do our specialist developments make more suitable housing available to meet the needs of an ageing population but also introduce the ability to have care in the home, reducing the pressure on hospitals.

Priory Asset Management LLP is a forward thinking property development company which seeks out opportunities to supply new, environmentally minded and socially acceptable Extra Care, Respite/Dementia Homes as well as modern business units. The style and aesthetics of these facilities will dramatically enhance the localities where they are built. 

Any press enquiries should be forwarded to Priory Asset Management LLP on 01983 297 075 or enquiries@prioryasset.com