It is frequently suggested that elderly people living — sometimes alone — in family homes should be ‘downsizing’ and freeing up the housing stock for families. But where are we to go?
There comes a time, especially now we are all living longer, when the house is too big, costs too much to run, and the garden gets neglected. But independence is important and we may have the security of neighbours to call on if there is a problem.
In the UK and elsewhere, most towns have more than one block of apartments built for this age group, with communal areas and, most importantly, a residents ‘warden’ or ‘housekeeper’, to whom residents look for help. Apartments are designed to cater for wheelchair and other mobility needs and have alarm systems.
The facility is usually located near amenities, such as shops, schools and buses for those no longer able to drive. Ballincollig has a facility in Westgate, but with only 30 units, it’s not nearly big enough for a town of almost 20,000.
Now I am over 80, I would love to be able to put a deposit down and move into a suitable home in one to two years. My siblings in the US and UK have been able to do this.
Independence is precious and, with the right support, can be maintained much better than living in a house which is far too big.
Anyone selling a family home can afford to pay for the right place, plus the ongoing charges, to live in a community in the same age group. I have many friends in the same position.
There is a real gap in the housing market and should be a worthwhile project for developers to consider?