Older people shun pools and spas in favour of WiFi and greenery when it comes to retirement living

James Fenner
James Fenner
Managing Director, Silk Road Marketing
  • UK now has 11.8 million over 65s (Age UK)
  • 84.73% of those aged 70+ prioritise adaptations to their existing home (Silk Road)
  • Number of centenarians up 65% in past 10 years (Age UK)
  • Cost and healthcare facilities are top priorities for retirement home living (Silk Road)

With 11.8 million people aged 65+ in the UK according to Age UK, the options available to those in the later stages of life have never been more important. Independence and dignity are key themes of concern for many of those whose housing options change as they become frailer. Over the last 10 years, then number of those living past 100 has increased by 65%.

This has prompted us to take a fresh look at what it is that older people want and need from their retirement living arrangements so surveyed 200 of those aged 70 and above in order to gain insights into their priorities.

We didn’t want to make assumptions about what older people want from their retirement accommodation, so we took the time to find out first-hand what their priorities are. This is essential data for those building retirement homes and communities for our ageing population – we need to be building the right kinds of homes to suit those who will be living in them and when it comes to promoting independence and dignity, the right design can make a huge difference.

The Silk Road team found that making adaptations to a person’s current home, in order to enable them to live there longer, appealed to 84.73% of respondents. This highlights the importance of companies that can bring technology into existing premises, from stair lifts to fall detection floors, which contact a nominated individual should they detect a fall.

Survey respondents identified being able to be self-sufficient and maintaining independence for as long as possible as top priorities. For those considering moving into a retirement home/community, compassionate care and access to outside space were among the key considerations. Understandably, 92.1% of individuals felt that the healthcare facilities on offer were either very important or quite important, while 90.2% flagged up the importance of cost. Lifestyle facilities were ranked as very important or quite important by 85.7% of respondents.

Of those, fast WiFi/broadband topped the list of what’s important, as the internet continues to provide a way for tech-savvy older people to engage with the rest of the world. Respondents ranked its importance as 7.68 out of 10, while gardens came a close second (6.69 out of 10), followed by the availability of a local transport service(6.33 out of 10). A guest room for friends and family was next on the priority list (at 6.14 out of 10), with 85.8% of those aged 70+ ranking proximity to friends and family as very or quite important.

Leisure facilities, while popular with those aged 70 and above, are not the priorities when it comes to retirement home living. While many new developments are focus on swimming pool and spa facilities, our research has found that lounge areas and reading rooms are more important to this age group. It’s crucial that developers take account of such details when planning the space allocated to facilities in new retirement home projects.”

In terms of leisure facilities, the Silk Road survey found that, after lounge areas and reading rooms, a bar was the most important consideration for the majority of older residents. That was followed by a swimming pool, cinema, gymnasium and spa. The human element of the environment was also important, with 83.3% of people ranking a sense of community as being very or quite important to them.

Above all I want it to feel familiar, offer privacy, have kind people there and make me feel happy.”

(Silk Road survey respondent)

Ultimately, this is what developers need to deliver in order to provide our older people with the dignity and independence that they deserve in later life.


Posted on by Brian Warwick

Most interesting blog and survey, I would agree with much of the feedback based upon my personal knowledge of friends and colleagues being in my 80’s. One further facilitity is for access to Community transport facilities to continue a normal community life, attending events and activities locally, retailing trip, support in feeling part of a wider community and not being restricted to a life mainly in one building.

Posted on by Carole Kibble

Spacious garden areas and swimming pools in retirement properties would hopefully lead to gentle exercise that must be beneficial.

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