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Can Buildings Reduce Our Biological Age?

Can Buildings Reduce Our Biological Age?
03 July 2023
 

The ageing of our population is happening faster than at any time in human history, having a drastic effect on how society operates. But how do the buildings we live in affect how we age?

The population of England and Wales has continued to age rapidly, with Census 2021 results confirming there are more people than ever before in older age groups. Over 11 million people – 18.6 per cent of the total population – were aged 65 years or older, compared with 16.4 per cent at the time of the previous census in 2011.

Data shows that a third of elderly people live in unsuitable homes and many new houses don’t take into account the changing needs of the population.

 

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“We have the oldest housing stock in Europe so there are many people living in non-decent and inappropriate homes. These homes are simply not suitable for people who are older or who have disabilities.”

–Dr Aideen Young

Senior Evidence Manager, The Centre for Ageing Better 

 

 Dr Aideen Young, Senior Evidence Manager at The Centre for Ageing Better said: “We have the oldest housing stock in Europe so there are many people living in non-decent and inappropriate homes. These homes are simply not suitable for people who are older or who have disabilities.”

Dr Carole Easton OBE, CEO at The Centre for Ageing Better added: “Poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion every year largely through excessively cold living conditions and hazards that cause people to fall and injure themselves."

The Centre for Ageing Better highlighted the impact of non-decent homes including their 2020 report with the King’s Fund which detailed how 4.3 million non-decent homes in England were putting the health and wellbeing of around 10 million inhabitants at risk.

Poor-quality homes that are in physical disrepair, are cold and damp, inaccessible, or not of appropriate size for the residents are associated with negative health outcomes, including cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and a decline in general physical and mental health.

In 2020, it was recorded that of the 23.5 million households in England, 18 per cent were in a "non-decent" condition, meaning that they failed the comply with The Decent Homes Standard.  Homes must meet four key standards to be considered decent, including being in a reasonable state of repair, with reasonably modern facilities and services and efficient heating and effective insulation.

 

Retirement Village Reduces Residents Biological Age by 8.8 Years in 12 Months

 

As we grow older, we spend more time in our homes, and they become more likely to enhance or undermine our health and wellbeing.

Inspired Villages, who operate eight retirement villages in the UK with over 1,200 residents, published a review that demonstrated how a building’s facilities could slow down the biological ageing process. The study revealed that their residents on average reduced their biological age by 8.8 years in just 12 months during 2022 through its fitness and wellbeing gym activities and facilities.

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages said: “By championing holistic wellbeing, the enhancement to the lives of our residents is so palpable, we’re looking at ways we can open this up to wider communities across the whole UK. Our ageing population are proud, passionate, and curious about trying new things and long may we continue empowering them all to do that.

“There are so few organisations that can measure in bricks and mortar, kilograms lost, independence retained, and strength, friends and healthy years gained, how to actually transform the stereotypes of ageing.  And in some cases, even turn back the clock.”

Residents use Wellbeing Kiosks to measure their heart rate, blood pressure, body fat, and weight/BMI to determine their biological age.

96 per cent of their residents were content with their level of companionship and social contact and were not lonely. This is compared to more than 1 million over 75s in the UK who go over a month without ever speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.

Picture: a photograph of a person sitting at their kitchen table, looking at their phone screen and writing on a piece of paper. Image Credit: The Centre for Ageing Better

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 03 July 2023

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