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Even though it has obvious benefits, older people may have difficulty living sustainably.

Even though it has obvious benefits, older people may have difficulty living sustainably.

Older man walks down corridor

Improving the sustainability of Australia’s housing stock is ImportantTo achieve national emissions reduction goals. These changes can be both beneficial and challenging for older adults.

My Recent researchWe reviewed the literature on environmental sustainability in older adult residences. These included retirement villages, nursing home and private homes.

I discovered that sustainability measures can have multiple benefits for older persons, but they also come with challenges. People who live in sustainable housing may use less energy or water, which can result in lower bills. However, older people may experience cognitive decline and have difficulty using sustainable technology devices.

The full effects of environmentally sustainable features must be better understood if we’re to provide seniors with high-quality residential environments.

Older man walks down corridor
Older people can reap the benefits and face the challenges of sustainability measures.
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Sustainability and ageing: A complex combination

According to forecasts, by 2056, 22% of Australians – or 8.7 million people – will be aged 65 or older. For these people to live in high-quality homes, it is important to provide them with a safe and secure environment.

Residential development, including retirement villages, is increasingly concerned with environmental sustainability. And previous researchIt is clear that most people who live in retirement villages want to lead more sustainable lives.

As climate change worsens the homes of older adults must be able to adapt to changing conditions. Global warming is a serious threat to the elderly because they are less able to regulate their body temperatures.

The following are some ways to improve the sustainability of a residential environment:

  • Reduce waste
  • Recycled or low-carbon building materials
  • solar passive design
  • Heating and cooling that works efficiently
  • Rooftop solar is a great way to get renewable energy.

Some residential projectsEnvironmental sustainability is an already a part of the senior citizen’s life. A Case studyA not-for profit retirement village in South Australia showcased innovative floor plans, efficient building materials, window orientation, and water harvesting systems.

My previous research FoundEight retirement villages in Queensland offer a variety of sustainability features, both for-profit and private.

However, while many retirement village developers prioritise “social sustainability” features such as care provision and social interaction, environmental sustainability is It is often overlooked.




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elderly woman holds hands of carer
Forecasts predict that 22% of Australians by 2056 will be 65 or older.
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The plus side

The benefits of environmentally sustainable features in in older adults’ residential environment include:

Reduced resource consumptionSustainable dwellings use less water and energy, which reduces living costs. This is especially important to older adults, who often have a reduced financial capacity after retirement. Older adults also use energy More intensivelyThey are less likely to have more household members, higher heating needs and spend more time at home than other groups.

– Reduced health risk:Healthy indoor environments can be made more sustainable by taking environmentally-friendly measures. Good ventilation and high-quality air conditioning can lead to better indoor air quality and more comfortable ambient temperature.

– Resolved environmental problemsMany older people want their homes more environmentally-friendly. They can feel secure knowing that they are helping to reduce global problems like greenhouse gas emissions.




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elderly person's hands on heater
Sustainable dwellings typically require less water use and energy.
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The potential downsides

There are many challenges to ensuring older adults have a home that is environmentally sustainable.

– financial pressure:Many older adults have a significantly lower income after retirement. This is the result. Conflicts can occurWith the high initial investment required to develop sustainable housing, and the high cost of replacing current systems with sustainable ones.

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– Reduce energy consumptionIn some cases, sustainability measures may require that you tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures. It is possible to switch from a gas-heating system, for example, to a more sustainable one. delayHeat can make older people feel uncomfortable for a few minutes. This may conflict with older people’s Sensitivity increases to ambient temperatures.

Complexity and confusion:Older adults can still have the ability to have Cognitive abilities are lessIt can slow down information processing speed and memory. They may not be able to use sustainable technologies like smart thermostats. Research has As an option ways of overcoming this, such as better recognising the diversity of older adults to achieve a better “person-technology fit”.




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Four older women shelter from the sun under umbrella
Older people may be more sensitive to cold or hot temperatures.
Paul Miller/AAP

Next steps

Older adults have special needs that their homes can’t meet. Must satisfyEven when sustainability features have been adopted, it does not matter.

It is important to view ageing as a dynamic process that includes psychological, social and physical dimensions. Recognize the complex interrelationships among ageing, sustainability and the residential setting.

The following should contain best practices and lessons learned for creating sustainable living environments that are suitable for older adults. Share.

Developers making sustainability decisions should consult with other stakeholders. These stakeholders include occupational therapists, researchers, and, most importantly, older adults.

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