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Senior residency report scuttles myths

A report that looks into where seniors live in NSW was launched at State Parliament House in Sydney yesterday.

Chief executive of COTA NSW Ian Day said the 50+Report – compiling the findings of COTA NSW’s 2014 state-wide consumer survey – was created because very few people in government and in industry understand older people.

“What they tend to do is say everybody who is old is the same,” Day said. “We spent a fair bit of time today at the presentation just explaining to them that people are not the same – people in their 50s are different to people in their 60s [and so on]. This is one of the biggest problems with those in policymaking areas.”

He said the view that older people are a homogenous group has an effect on decision-making.

As an example, Day said there is the view that there aren’t any older people out in the south-western suburbs of Sydney, resulting in the construction of two-story, freestanding houses. “Seventy-five per cent of the respondents in those areas lived in free-standing houses – inappropriate housing for older people – because there isn’t housing.” He said there should be more town houses, home units and retirement villages.

Whilst there is often a view that retirement villages are spread out across the countryside of New South Wales, they are, in fact, concentrated in the North Coast, Central Coast and Sydney North regions.

“There are not enough retirement villages in Western suburbs, inner suburbs or the south-western suburbs,” Day said. “We have these suburbs getting older with no retirement villages in there.”

Day said there were some disturbing findings in the report, with some people struggling as they move through old age.

“Only about 60 per cent of respondents who are single/never married own their home, with the rate of home ownership falling to about 50 per cent of respondents who are separated [or] divorced,” Day said. “We were shocked to find 25 per cent of our female respondents reporting an income of less than $25,000 per year.”

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