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The importance of friendships in later life

Posted 21st June 2022

Retirement communities are friendly and sociable places. Having likeminded people around of a similar age you can make friends with and socialise with on your doorstep is one of the real benefits of moving to one in later life.

Friendships are essential for our wellbeing as we get older. A clinical review of nearly 150 studies found that people with strong social ties had a 50% better chance of survival, regardless of age, sex, health status, and cause of death, than those with weaker ties.

On the other hand, they found that the health risks of having few friends was like smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and more dangerous than being obese or not exercising in terms of decreasing your lifespan.

Retirement communities are all about living independently but having close neighbours and people around you can get to know and during the lockdowns, our residents really rallied and helped each other out.

Most communities organise regular social events in the communal lounge. These could be coffee mornings, afternoon bingo or a fish and chip supper. The residents may also get organise outings to nearby attractions, restaurants, the theatre, or even a weekend away.

People only join in with these if they want to, but they can be a real lifeline for people. One of these is Maria Elena Grillo who has rented an apartment at a retirement development called Sheridan Lodge in Bromley for the past 10 years and has made very good friends.

Maria’s studio apartment at Sheridan Lodge has lovely views over the communal gardens and she is surrounded by friends and neighbours so even though she lives alone she never feels alone. She is settled and happy in her community which she says, ‘feel like family.’

Maria says, “Everyone is so very friendly and there is a strong sense of community at Sheridan Lodge. I have a lovely cosy studio apartment which I love. The gardens are beautifully maintained and there is a warm feeling around the development. So far this week we’ve had a tea party and another gathering arranged for the weekend.”

Maria moved to London 40 years ago and enjoyed a prestigious career working as a Professor for the National Academy of Dance. She still has a great passion for dance and at 85 years old she is a dance ballet critic for an Italian dance magazine.

After suffering from an accident last year, Maria was overwhelmed by the support, kindness and care her neighbours, and in particular the House Manager, showed her.

She said, “From checking in on me daily and helping me with my weekly shopping, my friends here have been invaluable.”

Maria loves renting because it gives her the freedom and flexibility she wants. She also is on an assured tenancy which gives her security and means she never has to worry about a landlord wanting her to leave.  She also feels very happy and safe where she is.

She concludes, “I would highly recommend moving into a retirement community. As a woman living alone it is reassuring to know I have people I can speak to and socialise with, plus the house manager is wonderful and always goes above and beyond to help.”

To find out more about renting a home in a retirement development visit: www.myfutureliving.co.uk