New think piece from Lord Best: Accommodating our extended middle age

November 26, 2013

A new publication by Lord Best, Chair of Hanover, summarises and draws on all of the Hanover@50 Debate think pieces.  Lord Best argues that too much emphasis is placed on the years in which we are more vulnerable.  Housing ourselves well in our extended middle age is the key to addressing the income and care concerns vexing our politicians.

Lord Best says:

  • ‘Older age’ supposedly starts when we receive a pension.  But many of us continue to live very active lives.  This reality contrasts with a public policy debate dominated by the burden of predicted future care costs.  In fact, our extended middle age creates opportunities for most of us to help ourselves and to help others.
  • The disconnect between the reality of active later life today and the policy focus on those with care needs at the end of their life is distorting public policy, and storing up problems for later on.
  • Many of the think tanks highlighted the need to review how we think and talk about ageing and the desirability of services driven by and delivered by older people.  Many also  noted how people delay moving home until crisis strikes, yet there are huge financial and health benefits to moving earlier.
  • There will remain a significant minority of people who experience hardship earlier than others in later life, in health and wealth terms.  But for more and more older people, later life means many more good years. Missing the middle is missing the point: this extended middle age is an opportunity to prepare for our later years.
  • The right home, at the right time, is key to this preparation and to maintaining good levels of health and wealth as we age.  Addressing this demand, through ensuring more attractive and varied housing options, should be the first step to tackling the income and social care issues giving our politicians a headache.
  • There are wider housing market benefits to older people downsizing from much-needed family homes in both the social and private sectors.


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