The benefits of living in a retirement village
Read about the benefits of retirement village life, including the lifestyle, community and health benefits.
Have you been wondering whether it's time to downsize but don't know where to start? Maybe you’re starting to think your family home no longer suits your lifestyle and needs. Maintaining the home and garden might be a bit of a struggle, or your health might be declining and you’d like to live in a more supportive environment.
Moving to a retirement village could be just what you’re looking for at this point in your life.
Because retirement villages are purpose-built for older people, they offer many lifestyle and practical benefits. Residents enjoy a strong sense of community, feel safe and secure and can enjoy more quality time with family and friends.
Check out our top benefits of living in a retirement village:
1. Connection and community
One of the benefits of retirement village living is a strong sense of community.
Retirement villages offer many opportunities for residents to interact and connect, without living in each other's pockets, through on-site recreational facilities, community rooms and social activities.
This can help reduce social isolation, which, sadly, is a growing problem in Australia - the 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census indicated over a quarter of older Australians live alone. Social isolation and loneliness is a leading cause of hospitalisation in older people, and is linked to increased mental health and chronic health issues.
Moving to a retirement village can make it easier for people who are socially isolated to make friends and meaningful connections with people who share similar interests. And of course, it's up to you how much you want to participate in the social activities of the retirement village community. Living in a retirement village doesn't mean you lose your independence because you decide how much - or how little - you wish to be involved.
2. Low maintenance lifestyle
Retirement villages also offer low maintenance living, easing pressure on older Australians who no longer feel they can keep up with home and garden chores.
Because a retirement community is purpose-built, the homes can help to relieve some of the difficulty, stress and potential danger that comes with maintaining a house as you get older. These properties are designed to be easily maintained, you don't need to worry about paying the utility bills, and the common areas are looked after by the operator.
When it's time to go on holidays, it's easy to lock up, relax and enjoy your vacation.
3. Independent living for longer
What people want as they enter their later years is changing, with many older people choosing to stay at home and live independently for longer or 'age in place'.
Generally ageing in place refers to continuing to live in the community with some level of independence, rather than in residential aged care. That doesn't necessarily mean staying in the same house you've lived in for years. Moving to a retirement village is a great option for older people looking to downsize to a place that is more age-friendly where you can still enjoy independent living.
Retirement villages are designed with 'ageing in place' in mind and built with features to promote longer resident independence to reduce the need for a move to residential aged care. Communities are designed for wheelchair and walker accessibility, and homes can be easily fitted with hand-rail, motion-sensor alarm and lighting systems.
And if your health needs were to change once you moved in, a retirement community with a neighbouring aged care centre may be able to accommodate you and make the transition to a care centre easier with familiar surroundings and staff.
4. Maintain an active lifestyle
There are plenty of benefits to staying active as you age and retirement villages help promote an active lifestyle. Most offer a range of activities within the village or have easy access to facilities such as swimming pools, golf courses, bowling greens and gyms.
And because retirement villages provide a low maintenance lifestyle with less garden and household maintenance required, living in a retirement village can give you more time and opportunities to explore new interests.
4. Safety, security and reassurance
It's important we feel safe in our homes, and retirement living can provide higher levels of health and physical security for older people. Feeling safe, secure and reassured in our own homes is fundamental to feeling less stressed and more relaxed.
Most retirement villages have a range of security features including gates and fences, cameras, and sensor lights. You also have quick access to emergency services if you were to ever require them.
Choosing the right retirement village
Regardless of your own motivation for downsizing, it's really important you choose the retirement village that best suits your lifestyle and needs, so we've put together a 5-point checklist to help you make the right decision.
1. Does the retirement village suit your lifestyle?
It’s worth making a list of the things that are important to your lifestyle before you make any move.
If you’re an outdoors person, do you want to live near the beach or lake, or have access to parks and bushwalks? Some villages have their own swimming pools, as well as lovely gardens. Alternatively, you might prefer city living, with access to shops, restaurants, cinemas and museums.
Once you’ve listed what’s important to you, then you can start researching what’s on offer at different retirement villages.
2. Book a tour of the properties you're interested in
It’s important to make sure the retirement village is a good fit for you. Check out the community facilities, such as the pool, gym, café, community bus, hairdresser and BBQ area. If it matters to you, ask if pets are allowed.
And don’t forget to look at the activities calendar. Movie nights, shopping trips, happy hour and concerts are just a few of the activities on offer when living in retirement villages. These events are a great way to get to know your neighbours and form new friendships.
3. Chat to the staff and residents
Talking to the manager and staff is an important way for you to gauge whether you’d be content living in the village. Do they seem friendly and responsive, as well as efficient? Are they open with you about any village issues?
There’s no substitute for experience, so chatting to existing residents can also reveal a lot about life in the village. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s well run and a happy, safe place to live.
These insights will help you get a feel for the place that goes way beyond the bricks and mortar, helping you figure out whether it’s right for you.
4. Consider your future health needs
The Retirement Living Council (RLC) highlights that health and safety concerns were key drivers behind older people considering the move to a retirement village, as well as the ability to remain independent as they age.
Village living can reduce the need for a move to residential aged care because the design, environment and services help residents remain independent for longer.
Nevertheless, if your health needs were to increase significantly after you moved in, would it be important to have easy access to a high level of care? Some, but not all, retirement villages are co-located with an aged care centre, so that might be an important consideration for you.
5. Get independent legal and financial advice
Don’t sign any contract before getting independent legal and financial advice. Make sure you understand the different payment options and any ongoing fees.
Contracts can be confusing but the retirement village sector has been working hard to simplify the process. IRT is a signatory to the RLC’s 8-point action plan to deliver higher standards, clearer and simpler information about costs and contracts, and an independent umpire to resolve disputes.
IRT was also one of the first aged care operators to register for the RLC's Code of Conduct, which lifts the bar for all operators and is designed to assist in promoting trust and confidence in the aged care sector. You can download a copy of the code here.
The benefits of living in a retirement village can be huge. However, before you make any decision, consider the different options carefully and talk to your family and friends to get their advice.
After all, home is where the heart is, so it’s really important you make a wise move.
Retirement living at IRT
If you’re interested in downsizing your house and upsizing your life, IRT has more than 30 retirement villages across NSW, Qld and ACT. Find out more about the possibilities of village life and how one of our independent living communities can suit you and your unique needs.Find out more