More older people facing mortgage repayment difficulties

Housing problems facing elderly ignored amid wider crisis, conference hears

The number of older people facing difficulties making mortgage repayments is increasing, a conference on Ireland’s ageing population has heard.

Lenders were now dealing with more older clients still paying off mortgages after 65 years of age, giving rise to "age-related difficulties" making repayments, due to a dip in income later in their life, Colette Bennett of Social Justice Ireland (SJI) said.

The conference, held at St Vincent's Hospital, was organised by charity Alone and the Irish Gerontological Society, who organise research on ageing.

There had been a “huge amount of commentary” around the housing crisis, which often ignored housing difficulties facing elderly people, Ms Bennett, research officer with SJI told the conference.


There had been a “spike in homelessness” among over 65s in recent years, Ms Bennett said. While the figures on older people in emergency accommodation were small compared to the overall figure of more than 10,000, the rate of increase was worrying, she said.

In December 2014, 77 people over the age of 65 were homeless, this had increased to 133 by last December, according to Department of Housing figures, she said. These figures also failed to take into account any elderly rough sleepers, she noted.

In the years after the financial crash, there was a “significant bump” in the number of older people on local authority social housing waiting lists, she said. However the number of those aged 51 and over on social housing lists had decreased slightly in the past year, she said.

Sean Moynihan, chief executive of Alone said loneliness was a huge challenge facing the ageing population.

One in ten elderly people were living in severe loneliness, which was impacting on their health, he said.

This would be where older people living alone had no, or only very sporadic, visits from friends, family, or neighbours, he said.

“It’s a situation where nobody calls, where you have nobody to talk to … It leads to a painful existence,” he said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times