A Home for Life? A Critical Perspective on Housing Choice for “Downsizers” in the UK

A range of policy, research and media commentary has highlighted the link between housing, health, and wellbeing in later life, with discourses around “ageing in place” and “downsizing” emerging as particularly dominant. This paper critiques current practices and discourses around the commissioning, design, and management of purpose-built retirement housing. It calls for an urgent need to reframe housing from a lifecourse perspective and to recognize older people as active citizens, for whom their homes are essential to their continuing to contribute to family life and society. The paper argues for a more nuanced debate around “downsizing” and “ageing in place”, and calsl for policy-makers to recognize the risk of spatially and socially marginalizing older people through current limitations in housing choices. The paper concludes by setting out a number of measures to improve the choice, quality, and flexibility of housing for later life.