The issue of an ageing population is only growing, with life expectancy increasing by 12 minutes every hour, making it imperative we understand the best means in which to ensure a high quality of life that has minimal negative impacts on wider society needs (i.e. demands on resources due to poor management).
Research has helped quantify and validate the impact and challenges of housing for an elderly population. This can be summarised into 4 themes, and the following findings:
1. Demographics and trends
Currently 47 million people worldwide have dementia. By 2050, this number is expected to have almost tripled. In the UK we are expected to see the number of people living with dementia increase from 0.85 million to 2 million by 2051. In this knowledge, the need to better service this trend is of increasing urgency as if things stay as they are the demand and pressure on public services would cause significant impacts across society.
2. Economic impact
Dementia is one of the most expensive chronic illnesses for the public services across the UK; it is currently costing the government nearly £25 billion a year, two-thirds of which is at a cost to the people with dementia and their families. There are also indirect costs of £1.16 billion, which are not included in the government costs for dementia. For example, police costs associated with missing persons enquiries associated with dementia costs something between £22.1 and £40.3 million per year.
3. Demands of healthcare
Of all the hospital beds across the UK, 25% are being used by people suffering with dementia, while an average of 69% of people in care homes are suffering from dementia. A contributing factors to these figures could be due to 91.8% of dementia sufferers also having at least one other health condition.
Further to this, 47% of carers who responded to surveys had the opinion that bring in hospital had a significant negative effect on the general physical health of a person with dementia, causing further problems and increasing the need for them to stay in hospital. 54% of these same carer respondents found that being in hospital have a significant negative impact on the symptoms of dementia in sufferers, such as becoming more confused and less independent.
An important aspect of managing care for dementia patients is awareness and education around the illness. By making people mindful and by educating them on what can make you more vulnerable to dementia could help reduce the number of hospital admissions for people living with dementia; currently 20% of those admitted with dementia have preventable conditions, meaning certain lifestyle and environmental factors contributed to their illness.
By increasing awareness and education, more people would be able to stay at home for longer, especially if the home is adapted in a way to replicate dementia friendly homes. This is particularly important when 85% of sufferers wish to stay in their own home, but only 47% feel they would be able to.
Dementia friendly housing will allow for dementia patients to live independently in a safe environment that they are familiar with; close to friends and family. This would benefit the healthcare system by reducing the demand on their services. By incorporating these homes that help an aging population is reducing demands on publics services, therefore reducing the economic impacts of the illness, while also helping to decrease carers long working hours – at the moment 36% of carers are spending >100hours a week caring for someone with dementia.
When addressing the challenge of housing for an aging population, it is apparent that these are a range of stakeholders involved; from clinicians, to healthcare sector, housing providers, local authorities, design professionals, technology providers, carers, service users and the NHS.
For more information about Dementia please visit: