Perception is everything….. or is it?
The popular perception of what life is like in a retirement village is sometimes far from reality. “Don’t you need to be old to live there?”, “I don’t want to lose my independence!”, “Who wants to live amongst a bunch of old people?” Such statements are often heard by those associated with retirees and seniors groups.
Another misconception encountered is that retirement villages are the step between the family home and a nursing care facility. Let’s take a moment to debunk this myth. Analysis of our data from the past 12 years of operating Renaissance Victoria Point shows that only 30% of residents exit the village to move into higher care. Most take the celestial journey from the comfort of their own homes when the time comes, and those who do require a move to a higher care facility are almost exclusively due to an Alzheimer’s or dementia related illness.
Reasons behind the lower than expected rate mentioned above is difficult to identify statistically, as many things contribute to good quality of life. Most would agree staying healthy and independent are fundamental to enjoying a quality lifestyle in retirement years. Being active, socialising, contributing to community along with good access to facilities and services are all recognised as factors enhancing well-being.
So, what is good health? And what does it mean to you as you age? Good health, including ideas about how best to achieve and maintain it are different for everyone and influenced by many factors. Relationships with health professionals, genetics, life experiences, diet, activity, personal relationships etc all play a part in managing our health and this in turn contributes to our lifestyle and independence. Our optimum health experience is positively impacted by emotional, mental and physical well-being.
Senior living communities like retirement villages intrinsically offer a lifestyle solution that supports these aspects of well-being. They usually have community facilities and a variety of activities which residents can make use of, and take part in, when they choose.
Living in community style accommodation can help alleviate loneliness and isolation which is so often felt by older people, living alone in the suburbs. The community environment creates an atmosphere where people are active and social. Often, residents are encouraged and inspired by others to take up new hobbies and activities after moving into the Village. Whether it be woodwork, lawn bowls, croquet, card making, mah jong or tap dancing, engaging in any pleasurable, new or social activity promotes positive good health.
There are many positive day to day financial benefits of living in a retirement village as well which reduces stress – another plus for good health! Managing a budget is much simpler when household maintenance issues are taken out of the equation by an overall monthly service fee. It may even be possible to give up the expense of the family car in villages located close to transport, and which also provide the convenience of a village bus service.
According to the Property Council of Australia’s ‘National Overview of the Retirement Village Sector’ report released in October 2014, the supportive environment and resident funded services found in retirement villages contribute to better mental health, fewer visits to their GP, fewer hospital visits and are discharged earlier than their counterparts not living in retirement villages.
Residents of retirement villages like Renaissance Victoria Point receive the health benefits of an environment that’s focussed on meeting the needs of residents now and in the future. A community of like-minded peers, a team of staff dedicated to providing services to residents and access to in-home care and support providers are all things that improve the health and well-being of residents AND are specifically unique to retirement villages. Perhaps it’s time to revisit a retirement village near you and see if the reality is different to the one that is often perceived. This often also involves doing your own reality check to determine how important good health is to you, and the best way to achieve it.