Ageing at home - are we prepared?
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The design of the home is critical in allowing older people to continue to live independently. This can only occur if the home is barrier free and supports physical frailties. Most people who wish to live independently as they age in Australia will need to modify their existing homes in some way to suit their frailties. However the cost of home modifications can not always be met given the 'asset rich, income poor' ageing group and as one enters old age it becomes more difficult to maintain the home. Maintenance problems include affordability, not recognizing problems, not having the energy or expertise to do anything about them, a lack of knowledge about reputable builders and an inability to organize and supervise the work and check that it has been done properly.This paper addresses the issues of independent living for the baby boomer population within a well-established suburb of Perth, Western Australia. A survey was carried out in 2004 to identify the number of baby boomers wishing to age in place, whether their existing homes were suitable for ageing in place, the modifications required to make the homes suitable, at what stage of life such modifications should be made and whether the baby boomers were prepared to make these modifications. The findings show that, in Perth, typical housing will not support ageing in place without significant investment in building modifications. More significantly it appears that the baby boomer occupants are not aware of this looming barrier to ageing in place.
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