My retirement community helped me through the pandemic

Posted 5th May 2021

Retirement Communities

There are many benefits to living in a retirement community. Some you can plan for, and some, less so…

They say you can never know what’s round the corner and the recent pandemic has certainly shown that. There have been changes to everyday life no one could have ever envisaged before the chaos of Covid-19.

Our residents are all aged over 60 and this is the age group where many were told to shield. Others felt they needed to self-isolate to protect themselves from the virus as it is the older age groups that are more vulnerable to serious illness.

Support and companionship in their retirement community

What many found during this time is living in a retirement community was a real lifeline. Having people living close by who they could socialise with was often a key factor in deciding whether to move into such a community in the first place. But during the pandemic this has helped people get through the months of isolation from family and friends.

Whilst socialising in people’s homes and in the communal lounge was off the agenda for much of the time, people were still able to meet in the gardens (socially distanced) and have a chat and a cup of tea. It was reassuring for many that they could share the experience and help each other out.

“It’s all about independent living but with the reassurance there is help available should you need it with the emergency Careline system in each apartment and a house manager on site during the day. They do keep an eye on people especially those that live alone. Old age comes to us all and at some point, it’s a sensible choice to live in a retirement community.”

Diederik (Rik) Schmull – Homecove House

This mirrored what was going on generally in society. The Centre for Ageing Better for instance found that the first lockdown saw a surge in community activity, with 54% of people aged 50 to 69 years reporting a greater sense of belonging to their neighbourhood or local area since lockdown and 76% saying they know more people they can count on to help out*.

The impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental health has been well documented too. A forecast by the charity, Centre for Mental Health in August suggested that at least half a million more people in the UK may experience mental ill health as a result of Covid-19 in the next two years.

Mental well-being improved being part of retirement communities

For those living in a retirement community the social factor and having other retired people around has helped some with their mental wellbeing. Despite having to stay home many found creative ways to keep busy within their community, which had a real benefit on their mental health.

We know of one development where a resident researches and writes quizzes. Before lock down, he would run a weekly quiz in the communal lounge. When Covid-19 struck he decided to carry on but would pass quiz sheets round to all his neighbours who would then have a couple of days to complete the quiz.

Other residents had pets to take care of. Those with dogs were able to get out and enjoy their daily exercise with their companion. If for whatever reason they couldn’t manage to walk their dog, there were several residents willing to step in as dog walkers.

Residents also came together for the weekly NHS clap for the nurses and doctors. People came out into the corridor, on their balcony or patio or even in the car park – all socially distanced. This sense of camaraderie was a real boost for many people and the chance to have a natter.

People also helped each other out with shopping and things such as showing a neighbour how to use technology to keep in touch with family and friends. Zoom and Facebook portal was something many residents hadn’t ever considered using but during the pandemic it became a necessity. Now we would say our residents are some of the most technically savvy retirees in the country!

The community element of living in our retirement developments came into its own over the past year and half and has shown people what a great place they can be to live. We’re experiencing rising demand as other retirees realise the benefits that come with living in retirement communities.

*this is for the group the researchers defined as ‘living comfortably’.