A new report by the Retirement Living Council (RLC) unveiled over the weekend, highlights the substantial economic benefits of retirement villages in Australia, indicating potential savings of nearly $1 billion in healthcare costs.
The report, titled “Better Housing for Better Health,” emphasises the distinctive contributions of retirement villages to housing, healthcare, and the well-being of approximately 250,000 residents in age-friendly communities nationwide.
At the launch event, RLC Executive Director Daniel Gannon pointed to the distinctiveness of the retirement living industry compared to aged care, emphasising its affordability within a challenging housing market and the positive impact on residents’ health. The report reveals that retirement villages save the government $1 billion annually by delaying residents’ entry into aged care.
“People who live in retirement communities are less lonely and less depressed than older Australians who live independently because retirement communities encourage physical well-being and social interaction – which all translates to economic benefits for governments,” Mr Gannon said.
According to the report, in 2021 over 1.4 million Australians aged 75 and above lived in oversized dwellings with spare bedrooms, contributing to housing inefficiency. The mismatch adds pressure to housing supply challenges, with an anticipated shortage of 101,400 dwellings in Australia from 2023 to 2030.
Additionally, one in five older Australians requires domestic assistance, suggesting the need for “rightsizing” to address both housing shortages and provide suitable living conditions for the ageing population, reducing health risks associated with larger homes.
Other key findings from the report include a $945 million reduction in annual aged care expenditure by delaying entry for approximately 11,600 individuals, decreased healthcare interactions, a potential 67% reduction in the housing shortage by meeting current demand levels, and improved physical and mental health of retirement community residents. Residents in these communities are reported to be more physically active, happier, socially engaged, and less prone to depression and loneliness.