- Almost half of over-70s feel more connected to their community than pre-pandemic.
- The North West and South West are crowned most age-friendly places to live by over-70s.
- But UK regions are shown to be failing at inclusion, only 1 in 3 over-70s believe there are opportunities to actively take part in their community.
- Over a quarter of over-70s agree that they or someone they know has been obstructed from doing something independently because of their age.
- Some negative perceptions have become more widespread as a result of the pandemic – a fifth of over-70s agree that more people believe ‘older people are set in their ways’.
- Retirement Villages Group says further action needed to shift perceptions and promote positive ageing
New research from Retirement Villages Group (RVG) today (18 Oct), shows how feeling connected to a local community has become more important than ever to the older generation. The research demonstrates how attitudes have changed during the past year and the vital role older people attribute to being part of a supportive local community. As we emerge from COVID, the findings suggest there exists a great opportunity to ensure communities re-emerge as more open and integrated, particularly in ensuring they continue to support those who need it most.
For the over-70s, local community is a vital support network enabling them to live active and sociable lifestyles that support their long-term health and wellbeing. RVG’s ‘Back on Track’ research reveals that more than half (56%) of over-70s feel their community has taken on a new sense of importance since the start of the pandemic, and 44% feel more connected to their community than they did before.
Will Bax, CEO of Retirement Villages Group, comments:
“For the over-70s, feeling part of an active, supportive community is key to staying mentally and emotionally well. Which in turn reinforces physical health. Enabling this sense of outward facing community is at the heart of what we do; creating inclusive places that help people to continue to live their best lives whilst feeling safe and supported when the chips are down.”
Creating inclusive communities
With communities taking on heightened importance for older adults, it’s never been more crucial to ensure they are truly age friendly. RVG’s research scored the UK regions against nine key criteria1 underpinning age-friendly communities, helping highlight where further action can be taken to better support older adults to stay connected. The research reveals that the regions ranked the most age-friendly are the North West and South West.
Of the nine criteria, feeling safe and comfortable was scored the highest by over-70s across the UK – with 78% agreeing that their community provides this. On the other hand, despite community connections being at an all-time high post the pandemic, enabling older people to partake in society was scored the lowest, with only 1 in 3 (34%) of 70s agreeing that their community currently offers this - highlighting the dissonance often felt by older people and the need to make more progress in building more inclusive communities. The research shows that age is often a barrier to involvement, with over a quarter (28%) of over-70s agreeing that they or someone they know has been obstructed from doing something independently because of their age.
This reflects the belief among over-70s that certain negative perceptions have become more widespread as a result of the pandemic. For example, 19% of over-70s agree that more people believe ‘older people are set in their ways’ as a result of the pandemic and a third (35%) say the perception that ‘older people are a burden on the NHS’ has become more widespread.
Will Bax adds:
“Active social inclusion is critical to helping people remain independent for longer. This is why we are so passionate to change the antiquated, inaccurate perceptions of older people, to improve the understanding and appreciation of the valuable important contribution they make and create a more interesting public debate on how to better support positive aging. As we consider these issues post-COVID, at a time when Government is also considering the future of social care and housing, we have a unique opportunity to promote solutions that allow us to build back in a more integrated, inclusive and age-agnostic way for the long-term.”