Dispelling the Myths About Living In Retirement Villages

Although there are many benefits in living in a retirement community, moving into one is a major life decision and there are many unanswered questions and apprehensions when you actually have to make a choice. Sometimes, the fears can be a hangover from visits to retirement villages many years ago – perhaps even as a child visiting a grandparent many decades ago. Do these fears still hold true? What are some of the issues that people are anxious about? In this article we get some of the leading Retirement Villages to tell us the real story…

Myth: Retirement Villages are Depressing

According to Michael Wells, Director Tranquil Waters in Redlands, “This is indeed very high on the list of worries that people have about moving into a retirement village. However, this is also the easiest apprehension to get reassurance about. All you have to do is visit a retirement village near you.

Many have open days or otherwise just make an appointment to be shown around.” “Retirement villages today provide the added reassurance of comfort, style, safety and security in a vibrant and caring community. Talk to the people living there, ask about their day.

You will see that there is a lot going on, from social activities, health and wellbeing classes, swimming, bowling, outings, art and craft, just sitting and relaxing over a drink with friends and the list goes on. The depressing communities of the past are long gone and today’s retirement villages are active and much happier communities.” However, it would be fanciful to think that nobody in a retirement village gets depressed or is affected by social isolation.

Michael agrees and points out that, “Staff are usually trained in recognizing signs of depression and loneliness and it’s part of their job to help in these cases, without overstepping the mark. Sometimes the solution can simply be a sociable chat or arranging a ‘buddy’. If the problem is more deep seated, the retirement village usually gets the family or the resident’s GP or care provider involved to take the appropriate steps from there.”

Myth: I’ll Lose my Independence

Many people believe that they will lose their freedom by moving into a retirement village. They believe that life will be regimented and that they will be expected to fall inline. If there was a real basis for this fear, we would all fight tooth and nail, and resist the idea of moving into a Retirement Village.

According to Michael Eggington, Managing Director, Lendlease Retirement Living, “Our retirement villages offer independent living options where people can maintain independence, control and privacy as well as being able to take advantage of onsite services and facilities such as restaurants, cafes, instructional classes, and social outings.”

“In reality, retirement villages are able to provide a person with more independence than living in a larger home as services are easier to access and chores such as gardening and maintenance are removed. The time that is given back can allow people to realise a new found independence for things they may have always wanted to do but did not have the time.” “There are many stories of people in retirement villages taking up voluntary work they never had time for before, getting back into the workforce on a part time basis or even writing a book, because they are free from the bulk of household chores and maintenance that usually accompanies home ownership.

Whilst most people in their family homes would spend at least two or three hours a day on chores and maybe only an hour a day on things such as exercise or leisure activities – in a Retirement Village the time can be reversed, resulting in an exciting and refreshing new lifestyle.” In spite of all that is going on in the Village, however, nothing is forced upon you either, so you don’t have to feel obliged to participate in activities if you don’t want to. The reality is that you have the freedom to live life the way you want to.

Myth: I’ll Be Cut-Off from my Family and Friends

In essence, it would seem that moving into a retirement village is just like moving from one suburb to another or from a street-facing house to a gated community. According to Richard Andrews, Territory Operations Manager, Qld, Aveo Group, “It’s just like a change of address, usually for the better. You will still continue to participate in your life outside of the retirement village.

In fact, we encourage you to retain and strengthen your bonds with family and friends. Have them come over, go out together and do all the things you have always enjoyed be it eating out, shopping, going to the cinema or just walking along the beach.” Many residents in Retirement Villages also go out to work and others run their own businesses with all the normal networks that entails.

Other residents find that living in a retirement village actually gives them more time to engage in activities outside of the village which just wasn’t possible before because of the lack of transport or indeed time. As many villages provide transport and regular excursions, going to the mall or the theater can be visited in good company with new friends from the village. It is not so much that you are losing friends; rather you are gaining new friends as well.

Myth 4: There are Too Many Restrictions

For sure this was true of many places in the past, but today it is definitely not the case. Brett Mullen who is the Managing Director of Yukana, shared that “In regards to cooking, most if not all villages nowadays will have a full kitchen (or kitchenette,) so this is really is not an issue for a resident to independently look after their own requirements.

The only issue is whether you really want to cook in your accommodation, have your meal delivered to your unit or if you prefer to take a short walk to the village restaurant for your favorite dish with some friends” “I recently was talking with a resident from one of our units, who was dining in our private dining room, and asked why she was doing this (as I thought that she was more than able to do this for herself). Her answer was so sweet, “I have been cooking for over 60 years, I am done with that”.

“The same liberal attitude in today’s retirement villages applies to visitors, overnight guests and parties. They are encouraged as they help to retain your links with the outside world and allow you to have a great social network.

The management of most villages will usually encourage all sorts of events to keep you involved, such as a family dinner night, BBQ’s, grandparent’s days, etc…” “Incidentally, if you have a meal provided by the village to your accommodation or usually eat in the village restaurant / cafeteria, most villages will have plans for guests as well.”

“That said, there will always be some sensible guidelines about late night parties so you don’t disturb others, but that is just like living in your current house or unit in a residential area or having a body corporate which would also have some rules on not disturbing your neighbors. So I say enjoy your party!”

When you are going to move home, it is natural to worry. Some of those worries come to us because we remember the rather sombre environments of many years ago. Independent living in a retirement village today is nothing like it used to be. It is happier, freer, and healthier.

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