18 Feb 2019

Australia’s population is ageing; it is estimated that by 2064 close to one in four (23%) Australians will be aged 65 years and over.

These seniors are more likely to be women than men and healthier than any generation before them. However, ageism can often act as a barrier to seniors contributing in their local communities, even if they are mentally and physically able and willing.

In her City Planning honours thesis, Urbis Community Planning Consultant Isabelle Kikirekov investigated the potential for intergenerational living to improve the lives of senior women in NSW. The primary research involved interviews with senior women either living in their own homes (ageing in place) or residing in a seniors’ village.  

Through the study, senior women were asked to share their experiences of fear in and of ageing, how they define their personal identity and their current forms of intergenerational networks. The research identified the following key insights:

  • Deterioration of health is the primary fear of senior women.  
  • Limited intergenerational communication can contribute to negative attitudes toward old age in younger generations.
  • Family and work are the most influential factors on women’s identity.
  • Senior women have high levels of social participation and attachment. This includes involvement in paid work and unpaid volunteer roles, belonging to social sports or arts and crafts groups, or simply catching up with friends on a regular basis.  
  • Senior women ageing in place felt as though this in-situ situation encourages more social interaction with people of other generations.
  • Approximately half of the senior women interviewed would like to seek more intergenerational relationships.

Facilitating seniors to age in place in communities that are centrally located and accessible to a range of services, open space, transport options and both informal and formal social interactions should be the focus for future planning.

Ageing in place provides seniors with independence and choice to live in a community that suits their needs and wants.

Isabelle Kikirekov

The Australian Productivity Commission’s (2015) research paper, Housing Decisions of Older Australians, found that 83% of people aged 60 years or more saw living in their own home as their preferred living arrangement. Ageing in place provides seniors with independence and choice to live in a community that suits their needs and wants. This may be staying in their family home, down-sizing to a private dwelling or a seniors’ living village.

Co-location of senior living models is an option, which we as city shapers, can advocate for. Senior living villages co-located with educational precincts, child-care centres, recreational facilities (or all three and more) is a great way to create a hub of activity and facilitate the potential for increased intergenerational interaction.

The above is a snippet of Isabelle’s LinkedIn article, Better Together: Intergenerational Seniors Living. To continue reading, please click here.