Suitable housing is a growing problem for elderly Scots
Fewer than half of people over 55 think their home will be suitable in later life, new research by Age Scotland has found.
One in eight people say their current property is unsuitable while 46% either think it will be unsuitable in the future or are not sure.
The main reasons include accessibility, size of home, issues with cold, damp or heating, need for repair or their location.
Age Scotland and ScotInform surveyed more than 1200 people aged 55 and older, from every local authority in Scotland. The study was funded by the Scottish Government.
With the number of over-65s in Scotland set to soar by 59% by 2037 (from 930,000 to 1,470,000), the charity says there is an urgent need to take these views into account and “future-proof” housing stock.
There will also be increasing demand for homes for single older people, and more adaptable properties for those living with health conditions, disabilities, or dementia.
Age Scotland’s chief executive Brian Sloan said: “This research gives a fascinating snapshot of our housing needs and concerns in later life. While it’s good to see most older people are happy with their existing home, a concerning number are not sure it will be suitable as they get older.
“People with health conditions and disabilities are especially likely to be stuck in unsuitable homes, whether they’re not accessible, cold, damp, or in need of repair.”
The survey demonstrated that there is an overwhelming preference for living on one floor, with many people looking to move to a bungalow or a flat.
Other top priorities include being close to local shops and services, a smaller or more manageable home and a property that could be adapted to changing needs over time.
Despite this, most respondents did not intend to move home. Almost half said they would prefer to adapt an unsuitable home rather than move.
Age Scotland has said there is a clear need to invest more in “future-proof housing”, that can be adapted for people with disabilities and to suit their needs as they grow older.
Homes could include adaptable space, energy efficiency measures, shared spaces, and dementia-friendly design. Although there is a clear need for bungalows and accessible flats, there is a shortage in many communities in Scotland.
Sloan added: “It’s also concerning to see that rising energy prices are a big worry for most older people. It’s especially shocking that so many older people with disabilities or health conditions tell us that they struggle to pay their bills every month, with far too many putting their health at risk by failing to heat their home adequately.
“Current legislation to address fuel poverty is major a step in the right direction, but we need to do more to help older people struggling to pay their bills, stay warm and healthy, and ensure everyone can access the help that is available.”
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “As part of our Housing to 2040 work, we have been engaging extensively with stakeholders to consider the needs of older people and our ageing population.
“We will continue to work with the Energy Savings Trust to provide an advisory service through Home Energy Scotland, including raising awareness of energy efficiency and fuel poverty programmes in Scotland.”