Ross Greenwood speaks to Ben Myers Executive Director of Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia, about a new report showing that there is a shortage of age appropriate housing for senior Australians
Introduction: Where will seniors live in retirement?
Ross Greenwood: Welcome back to Work, .Life, Money going right across Australia. One issue every one of this will confront, either with parents, grandparents or for ourselves is the way which will live later in our life. That there’s a fundamental problem in Australia right now. As we have a rapidly aging population, as we will aware about, you got retirement villages now approaching capacity. As a result, the question is being asked inside the property industry, but more broadly into the retirement community where will seniors live in the future.
Now, on the program already today, we’ve noted that more Australians are staying in their homes later in their lives. The second part of that we’ve also noted is that more
Australians are working later into their lives. These things come together to figure out when the moment comes that you need some alternative accommodation, where
do you go? Let’s go to Ben Myers who is the executive director of retirement living at the Property Council of Australia. The Property Council represents a lot of developers that
would put up these alternative retirement living options is online. Many thanks for your time, Ben.
Interview with: Ben Myers, Executive Director of Retirement Living, Property council of Australia
Ben Myers: Good evening, Ross.
Ross Greenwood: This is the real problem. The price of properties going up in major capital cities. You point out that the national average entry price for two bedroom unit is $424,000. That is for many people on modest incomes and modest means, probably believe, is this a fundamental problem in the Australian’s race right now?
Ben Myers: Getting into a retirement village is actually, probably, a more affordable option than many other forms of housing. It is an issue for many older people transitioning out of work into all the years, finding somewhere suitable to leave in. Particularly, somewhere that’s built to help people leave independently longer.
Ross Greenwood: Do people have to be concerned about some of the recent reports they have saying, about the terms and conditions of contracts when they go into retirement villages or into retirement style living?
Ben Myers: The retirement village industry knows that the credibility of the industry and the trust residents have in the industry is absolutely important. That’s why right across industry people, they working on and I point plan to make sure there is real confidence in what you’re buying into-
Ross Greenwood: The real problem here is if I can just jump in there and just explain, for a lot of people that I get into a retirement village. They finally realize that I need to move on maybe one nursing home, or the other accommodation. The only place that they can sell it back to is the person that they bought it from that is actually running out the retirement the village. They’ve had messy phase on their way through. They’re going to basically do the whole place up on the way through. Then, find that they perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket on the sell. Given the fact that the property model there was be worth a lot more money. This is a problem.This is what people might be a little wary potentially of going to some of these types of arrangements.
Ben Myers: I think what you’re talking about there only happens in a very rare number of cases. There are very many retirement villages in the country. They all offer something different, they all have different arrangements for their residence. The bad stories you hear are exception rather than the rule. The census that we’ve just released shows, in fact, the popularity and demand for retirement villages is higher than ever. I think that really comes down to the fact there is an affordability component that people do feel comfortable with the financial arraignments of the contracts they enter into, and that there’s a real focus by the industry on making sure that there’s trust between the operators of retirement villages and residents.
Ross Greenwood: The other aspect of this is as you pointed that in this research down with Pricewaterhouse Coppers, what has kept is that you believe that across Australia, there is a 93% occupancy right now. If you and I were talking about office blocks in the middle of the city, it might be a slightly different matter. 93% you say is practical capacity because people are constantly moving out accommodation. From that point of view, there is always going to be a number of people moving through.
Ben Myers: That’s right. What we’re saying is that there is a real need to increase the supply of retirement villages particularly in our urban areas around Australia. To just simply meet
the demand that exists in the market now, but also the demand that is coming with the huge increase in the older populations within Australia.
Ross Greenwood: Not being rude, that I have certain impressions and having been through a number of retirement villages as to what retirement villages look like, and the offer that I have. For somebody who might be getting a little older, I’m not a 100% certain that that is my image of a retirement lifestyle. Is the design and the concept of retirement villages having to evolve along with the expectations of the community?
Ben Myers: Absolutely. Retirement villages today in the mind are so very different to what many people might think they would be, and what people looked that and soar in the past. We’re seeing villages that are being built with shopping centers underneath and we’re seeing villages that have cinemas, pet-friendly, have all sorts of community activities and events going
- Importantly, the big feature retirement village is that I’ve designed to help people live independently longer.
What does that mean? That actually means that they’re designed to reduce the two biggest causes of hospitalization in all the people and that’s falls and depression. You’ve got social activities, you’ve got community activities, and because you’ve got buildings that have been really well thought out for bodies that are becoming less my balls as I get older. Water, doorways, light switches that are at the right height. Power points are at the right height. Benchtop that might even be a bit lower.
These buildings are designed to make people live more comfortably and independently for longer in just subtle way. A modern retirement village is very different to what many
people would see older the retirement villages to be a lot. They are offering so many features that’s probably are a little a lot living in a hotel for all the people.
Ross Greenwood: Because my impression of it, now going back some time. I have seen, quite a number and a variety of retirement accommodations around Australia, but the old notion of a crushed rug under your knees and basically sitting there not doing terribly much over a long period of time. Singing Knees Up Mother Brown or Roll Out The Barrel. That is not a day that can change my musical ties but also are quite clearly dated in terms of the design and the style.
Even the expectation, because that’s important thing is, the expectation of people going in, because when families are considering these with elderly parents or grandparents, everybody’s got to make certain that there is a positive outcome.
Ben Myers: That’s right, and the important thing to do if you contemplating downsizing is to find a property that works. Whether it’s an apartment or a half, or retirement village. It’s about making sure that the communities, the neighbourhood services facilities are right for you because you’ve got to be happy. If you going into a retirement village, visit it. Take your family. Make sure you talk to some of the residents to ensure that it’s actually going to work for what you want.
If you don’t want to engage in community activities, maybe retirement village isn’t right. If you do like that kind of environment, if you do want the safety and security of knowing
that help and carry is only a call away, then a retirement village probably has a lot to offer.
Ross Greenwood: That’s are interesting stuff. You stretch to finish up the average age of residents entering villages, now, 75. The average age of current residents, 80. The average time residents have lived in a retirement village, seven years. The female residents represent 65% of people in retirement villages. Men, 35%. Ben Myers is the Executive Director of retirement living at the Property Council of Australia. Ben,, glad to have you on the program.
Ben Myers: Thank you very much.
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