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Changing aspects of later life living in the UK

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By Crispin Tomlinson


Published 11 March 2021


The concept of retirement is changing as nearly half of older workers anticipate they will work into their 70’s, whether by choice or need. Crispin Tomlinson of international law firm DAC Beachcroft considers how the personal wealth and health will affect the future real estate market for later life living.



Wealth is unequally distributed across the older cohort, with opportunities for luxury living and the need for social housing. At one end there is the asset millionaire, which has risen to some 20% of over 65s in the UK from 7% in 20061. At the other extreme there are 1.9 million pensioners in the UK living in poverty, with some 940,000 unable to pay an unexpected bill of £2002. Two thirds of those aged 50-65 were under-saving for retirement prior to the pandemic3 and almost 1 in 5 of those aged 55 or over has only £1,000 or less in savings4.

COVID-19 has seen 13% of older workers change their retirement plans, with 8% planning to retire later and 5% planning to retire earlier5. In the immediate pre-pandemic period, 52 percent already expected to continue to work at least in a part-time capacity past the age of 66, 45% past the age of 70, and 9% even into their 80s6. An increase in the number of years at work gives rise to opportunities for new financial services products to support people when they do finish work.

Finding or retaining a job post pandemic is not a given, but technology will be a great enabler. An evolving corporate re-organisation trend will likely see smaller core teams augmented by talent on an as-needed basis. 90 percent of business leaders believe that using digital talent platforms will be a crucial source of competitive advantage in the future7, meaning older workers with their blend of experience and talent – could become tomorrow's in-demand gig workers. While some will choose to live in urban locations, technology means that employees can still relocate to the country or coast, without compromising the work they do. Some 34% of over 55’s say they want to move to a better location8.



Many over 55’s see being at their physical best as a more achievable goal; an ambition that is part of a societal shift to a focus on improving lives, as well as extending them. Some will successfully delay health conditions that come with age, but future proofing accommodation choices is an important consideration.

The UK population is expected to rise to 71 million by 2030 and 75 million by 2040, by which time 18 million people could be aged 65 plus9. This ageing is concurrent with worsening health outcomes. One in three adults already lives with multiple chronic conditions, and the number of people with at least four chronic conditions could double by 203510. In 2019, there were over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, or one in 14 of the over 65's. By 2040, there could be over 1.5 million people with dementia in the UK.

The market is responding to the requirements of this growing sector by providing a much wider range of options. Accommodation with support and accommodation with care are attractive propositions, especially combined with a range of services and a variety of company.

Whatever the style or location, home will become a key location for delivering ageing related healthcare. Buildings that automatically adapt to occupants' preferences, that engage outside help where need be will be enabled by contributory technologies such as sensors, edge computing and wearables. Predictive environments, supported by the Internet of Things, will be able to predict health issues and raise the alarm when an accident, fall or collapse occurs.

The UK smart home market of 2019 saw the 55-64 cohort account for just 11.7 percent of use, yet increasing digital and internet penetration by both the current elderly and future elderly see this transition accelerate11. Being surrounded by ambient technology will create a personal ecosystem, that extends into a community wide ecosystem. For later life living, the smart home of the future, will be a safe and responsive home, that helps lengthen the duration and quality of independent living.



1Source: FT, 2019 https://www.ft.com/content/c69b49de-1368-11e9-a581-4ff78404524e 
2Source: Age UK, 2020 https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/articles/2020/03/new-figures-show-1.9m-pensioners-still-living-in-poverty-as-age-uk-steps-up-appeal-for-donations-to-fund-vital-services-to-help-older-people-most-in-need/
3Source: Interactive Investor, 2020 https://www.ii.co.uk/analysis-commentary/two-thirds-50-65s-not-saving-enough-retirement-ii513736
4Source: Raisin, 2020 https://www.raisin.co.uk/newsroom/articles/better-saving-money/
5Source: FT, 2020 https://www.ft.com/content/4469593f-c095-40b3-afa6-b940accb23c8
6Source: People Management, 2019 https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/half-uk-adults-plan-work-past-retirement-finds-survey
7Source: Boston Consulting Group, 2020 https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/a-strategic-approach-to-on-demand-talent?linkId=104733616
8Source: BCG, 2021 https://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/finance/18-million-over-55s-considering-downsizing-due-to-pandemic.html
9Source: Phys.org, 2020 https://phys.org/news/2020-11-aging.html
10Source: EIU Perspectives, 2020 https://eiuperspectives.economist.com/healthcare/assessing-health-system-preparedness-multiple-chronic-conditions
11Source: amBX, 2020 https://www.ambx.com/news/2020/6/4/iothealthcare