Research suggests the number of older people living in rental accommodation could more than triple in the next 40 years.
A report commissioned for the Centre for Housing Research says about 54,000 homes were rented by people over the age of 65 in 2006, but that figure could reach 168,000 by 2050.
The centre says a significant shift in housing policy is needed if there are to be enough properties suitable for older people who want to keep their independence.
It says funding streams for such housing are currently fragmented and confusing.
The researchers also found that one person households will rise from 7% to 30% of all homes by 2031.