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Friendship and community – why people are flocking to retirement developments

Posted 13th May 2021

Retirement is a new and exciting chapter in people’s lives. It’s also a time when many decide it’s time for a fresh start in a new location to signal the change, which is leading to growing numbers to move into retirement developments.

Downsizing and moving somewhere more manageable is often one of the main reasons, but increasingly we’re finding it’s the community aspect and the chance to live close to people of a similar age that is most appealing.

Retirement developments are designed for people aged 55 years and above, who want to live independently in their own apartment but with age appropriate benefits such as having a house manager on-site daily to ensure the smooth running of the development.

Most of our developments have communal lounges and gardens in which people can socialise if they wish, plus the development community often organises activities and events. These can be anything from cheese and wine evenings or a karaoke night to visiting a local restaurant for a meal.

It’s this sense of community and living close to other retired people that can be a real lifeline, especially for those that live alone. It gives them the chance to meet people who are likely to share common interests and backgrounds.

During the pandemic when we couldn’t go anywhere it was also reassuring that I had people close by so I never felt isolated or alone

Diederik (Rik) Schmull – Homecove House

Often people’s social networks shrink when they retire, at a time when they have more time on their hands. Some people may have moved to a new area to be closer to family, but don’t know anyone else. Others may have moved back to the UK after spending part of their retirement abroad.

Retirement developments are therefore great places to make new friends and become part of a sociable community – something which can be really reassuring as people get older whether they are in a couple or live alone.

There is no obligation to get involved socially of course, but even those that prefer to keep themselves to themselves benefit from living in such communities. People look out for one another and there is always someone close by should anyone need any help.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions this was even more of a benefit. Residents looked after each other, doing shopping or errands for neighbours, having a social distanced natter and coffee in the garden and joining in together for the weekly clap for the NHS on their door step or balcony.

We also heard about neighbours helping each other out with technology, so they could keep in touch with family and friends using Facebook or Zoom or running weekly quizzes by passing quiz sheets around to complete in their own time.

For those that have dogs, there were also readymade dog walkers on hand should someone be unable to get out as they were isolating.

It was this sense of community that even attracted new residents. One lady moved in shortly after the first lockdown specifically because of the friendliness she had experienced when initially viewing the development.

Others have decided to move into a retirement development after being isolated during the pandemic because they couldn’t travel to see family and friends. Living in a community of people suddenly became a priority as they never want to be lonely again.

Retirement should be a time to enjoy being sociable and doing things that you never had time to do whilst working. It shouldn’t be a time for loneliness. Living in a retirement development is one way to ensure this never happens.