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Redefining retirement | The West Australian

While the retirement village industry is largely billed as catering to over-55s, experts say this descriptor is no longer valid, as many of those living in retirement villages skew older.

The 2019 PwC/Property Council Retirement Census found the average resident’s age on entry into a retirement village in Western Australia was 74, while the average age of residents across the country sat at 81, with residents in the state staying at a retirement village for an average of about nine years.

“In reality the age of people going into retirement villages, they are mainly 70-plus, and they are not 55-plus,” Faster Horses Director Tracey Armson said at a recent Property Council of Australia breakfast on retirement living.

“The people who are 55 probably have a family member who they are considering about whether they need some help.

“People who are 45 to 55 are known as the sandwich generation.

“They have kids in their late teens or early 20s and have elderly parents, so they are in the middle.”

The report also found the average age of residents in a village increased with village age, and this trend stabilised as the village approached 20 years of age.

“The description of the sector as over-55 is no longer relevant,” Ms Armson said.

“The most common description of the industry now is independent living, and I think that is a fantastic descriptor because nobody wants to think about getting old – everybody wants to think 70 is the new 30.”

Ms Armson said a survey from the consulting group found trust in the industry was low in these key demographics, however.

“Not surprisingly, trust in the industry is low, and that is not because they have been doing a bad job, it is mainly the media driving this perspective,” she said.

“Those living in aged care actually like living there, they have high satisfaction. But those who have never experienced aged care have low trust in the industry.

“The concern is the lowest level of trust is amongst those not involved in the industry and those who are aged 60-79, who are your primary target market. They have significantly less trust the industry than other ages, with those that are 18-39 most likely to trust the industry.”

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