Age-friendly housing can reduce elderly hospitalisations

The Retirement Living Council (RLC) welcomes the findings of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) “Injury in Australia” report as an important reminder about the benefits of age-appropriate housing.

The AIHW report, released today, found that 296,490 people over the age of 65 presented to emergency departments with injuries across the country in 2022-23, with the highest likelihood of injury occurring after age 75.

Falls were most common amongst those aged over 75, accounting of 46 per cent of reported falls leading to hospitalisations.

It also found there were 20,200 cases of women aged 80-84 being hospitalised with injuries during this time period, representing the highest number of cases for any female age cohort.

RLC Executive Director Daniel Gannon said while the report’s findings should be instructive for governments as they manage the country’s dual health and housing crises.

“There are 1.4 million Australians over the age of 75 who live in homes that aren’t necessarily suitable for their ageing needs, which is leading to trips, falls and increased interaction with GPs and hospitals,” Mr Gannon said.

“Retirement village residents are 20 per cent less likely to require hospitalisation after only nine months living in one of these communities, which leads to 14,000 avoided annual hospitalisations across Australia.

“As a consequence, age-friendly communities are minimising the interactions older Australians have with GPs and hospitals, while importantly delaying entry into taxpayer funded aged care.

“Compared to people who don’t live in a retirement community, residents are also 15 per cent more physically active, 41 per cent happier, five times more socially active, twice as likely to catch up with family or friends and have reduced levels of depression and loneliness.

“All of this reduced interaction with health systems generates $945 million in annual savings for the Australian Government while at the same time freeing up aged care beds for increasing demand.

“Given the issues highlighted in this report from the AIHW and the impending demographic ‘silver tsunami’, governments need to do everything they can to unleash more housing supply that keeps people healthier and happier for longer,” he said.

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