Reams have been written about the older generation during the Covid-19 pandemic, but sometimes their own voices are overlooked.
When the government argued that over-70s should self-isolate, fit, healthy and vibrant over-70s such as John Humphrys came out fighting against generalisations about their generation. “To say the over-70s must be looked after because they are vulnerable is an absurd generalisation,” he said in his Daily Mail column. “I smoked my last cigarette at 23, drink the occasional half of bitter, run a couple of miles every morning and do a workout in the evening.”
Angela Rippon warned of a revolt from the ”70-plus, fit and healthy”, who will ask: “Why are you making this decision on age?” And 71-year-old Alan Titchmarsh railed against DIY stores with plant sections remaining open while garden centres have only just reopened for business.
So how can the property industry understand this generation better and, as we learn lessons from the pandemic, provide for them?
Riverstone’s Boomer and Beyond report, carried out with The Good Care Group, showed that over-70s are highly active, switched on (many at ease with the internet) and well-informed. More than half of our respondents use WhatsApp, with Facebook close behind. Their favourite activities were eating out, sport, exercise and travel.
They prize spending time with family and friends and this is one of the biggest contributing factors when they are considering any property move. Some do not see a need to move, while others wish to downsize, in consultation with family members in particular. Above all, they want the comfort and independence of their own home in a familiar neighbourhood.
Who would want to pick a fight with John Humphrys, Angela Rippon and Alan Titchmarsh
For many people as they approach old age, the choice seems to be stark: remain in their own home, possibly living alone and with big maintenance bills to pay, or move to a care home, and lose their independence.
According to Knight Frank research, the number of over-65s in the UK is forecast to increase by 20% by 2027, so it is clear that a third option needs to increase in scale. And this is where retirement communities come in, with self-contained homes for sale, 24-hour on-site staff, facilities including restaurants, leisure and wellness amenities such as gyms, hairdressers, activity rooms, residents’ lounges and gardens.
Not to be confused with retirement housing – apartments with wardens – or care homes, retirement communities are homes to millions in the US, Canada and Australia.
The UK’s Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) has a mission statement that aspires to see 250,000 people in the UK living in retirement communities by 2030. Backed by heavyweights such as Lord Tebbit and Damian Green and Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Bridget Phillipson, the idea is to enhance health and wellbeing through retirement communities across the UK.
At Riverstone, we couldn’t agree more: we want to create the very best retirement living in London, with hospitality services ingrained in what we do and best-in-class health and wellbeing services.
It’s time to promote a new alternative for Britain’s dynamic over-65s. And who would want to pick a fight with John Humphrys, Angela Rippon and Alan Titchmarsh in denying the life they and their contemporaries want to live?
Meriam Lock-Necrews is chief commercial officer at Riverstone