Health benefits of living in a community

There is no doubt that belonging to a supportive community of friendly like-minded people has a positive impact on physical and mental health.

Written by

Sheila Frampton

There is no doubt that belonging to a supportive community of friendly like-minded people has a positive impact on physical and mental health. This is encapsulated in a comment one widowed homebuyer made when he moved to his new retirement community.

 

I’ve spoken to more people in the last week than in the nine years I lived in my former home.

Over the years, we have witnessed the generation of strong connections and wonderful sense of community on new retirement developments. When calling to speak to one or other of the residents at a particular development, they’re often having coffee with neighbours – or they’re about to go off to the U3A together or to walk their dogs. Home owners on some retirement developments even go on holiday together. The best thing, however, is that there are people on hand when you feel like socialising but at times when you feel like being alone, that’s possible too.

A report published in 2019 bears this out. The in-depth research by ProMatura International and ARCO (the trade association representing the retirement community in the UK) found that people living in retirement communities live healthier, more active, more social, more secure and happier lives than those who do not. The research included a total of 2,799 residents from 81 different retirement communities and 1,111 people who were considering making a move to a retirement community.

 

The report found that people in retirement communities:

  • Stay healthier for longer
  • Are more active
  • Are less lonely
  • Have a greater sense of a safety net
  • Feel more secure
  • Enjoy life more
  • Enjoy more privacy

 

The study also found that 90% of residents thought they had moved into a retirement development at just the right time in their lives with 6% saying they would have rather move in sooner. Almost three in four respondents (71%) saw moving to a retirement community as a chance to make new friends. The question is why is this the case?

1) Staying healthier for longer

Ageing well is linked with a number of factors including mental health, social activities and finding new interests, but it is mainly about having less stress and a low maintenance lifestyle is key to having less stress – both physically and mentally.

Living in an older property with a large garden means there’s always something that needs doing – from raking leaves and cleaning gutters to repairing a broken fence. All this costs money, takes time, raises stress levels and takes a toll on your health.

With a home that’s easy to maintain and an estate manager to deal with the maintenance, external window cleaning, cleaning of the communal areas, the upkeep of the landscaped setting and private gardens, it’s possible to relax and just enjoy retirement – concentrating on making new friends, finding new hobbies or taking up activities you never had time for before. An added bonus is that it gives your family peace of mind knowing that there’s someone around to offer help and advice.

Whilst moving may be daunting, it’s a chance to declutter your home –this can be extremely satisfying and good for your mental health - and when you move, you’ll have fewer rooms and less clutter to clean.



2) Being more active 

If you’re spending less time on the maintenance of your home, you’ll have more time to spend on new activities.

Living at the heart of a retirement community, there will be people with similar interests – from walking, swimming, yoga or dance to golf and tennis. This means you’re more likely to keep active on a regular basis – and a daily walk in the landscaped grounds or to the local shops will increase your activity levels.

3) Being less lonely

People who choose to buy a new home on a retirement development tend to make new connections and discover a whole new social life.

Retirement can mean breaking connections – leaving work colleagues and, if you’re relocating to be closer to family or friends, some of the friends and neighbours from the area you used to live in. Retirement communities ‘set the stage’ for new friendships because everyone who moves there is new to the community and is at roughly the same stage of life – so there’s the possibility of a whole new social life whilst living an independent life.

According to the ARCO study by a huge margin, residents of retirement communities believe that their lives are better than they were the previous year. You don’t need to feel isolated – and you don’t need to be alone unless you choose to be.



4) Have a greater sense of a safety net

Sometimes things go wrong – no matter what age we are.

If you have someone you know you can call for help, it gives you a sense of safety. Living as part of a retirement community, your neighbours will know when you’re around and the on-site Estate Manager will be just a phone call away.

You’ll be provided a security pendant – in case of an emergency or a fall and your new home will have a security alarm. If you’re in an apartment, you’ll have a video-entry phone system. The paths around the development are smooth and well-maintained with low level lighting reducing the likelihood of trips or falls.

5) Feel more secure

Being part of a community of like-minded people undoubtedly makes us feel more secure, as if we are part of something greater than ourselves and as if we really matter.

As we age, we have less in common with the younger generations who move into the neighbourhood. Working families have little time to spend with older neighbours who are not related to them. Living in a retirement community, surrounded by people who share similar interests and similar values, makes us feel that we belong. 



6) Enjoy life 

Whatever you enjoy in life from sports to holidays and spending time with friends and family, you’ll have more time in retirement and without a large, expensive property to worry about, you’ll be able to spend more time doing something other than cleaning, gardening, maintenance.

You’ll be able to go on holiday – and with an estate manager to look after the communal areas and keep an eye on your home whilst you’re away, you won’t return to find the grass knee-deep or the mail piled up behind the door.

The estate manager may be able to put the heating on for you, before you return – and however long you are away for, you’ll know that someone is keeping a neighbourly eye on the property you’ve left behind. Making friends on your new development means you’ll have a better social life and, living near to shops and services but within reach of the countryside, you’ll be able to meet friends over a coffee, go walking or visit a local attraction.

7) Enjoy more privacy

Living as part of a retirement community, means you’re able to remain as private as you wish.

You’ll have your own front door and an estate manager on hand, should you need any help and advice. Of course, neighbours are on hand when you want company, but in a retirement community, your like-minded neighbours have a similar outlook and will respect your privacy.

Many retirement developments provide a guest suite that may be booked for family and friends. This means that when someone comes to visit, you’re able to enjoy the time with them but they will have their own, luxurious, space.



Moving to a new retirement development also means being able to choose where you live and this can be good for your health. You’ve probably lived in an area for years because of your work, your partner’s work or the children’s schools.

In retirement, you’re free to move to an area you’ve always wanted to live in – a village or market town surrounded by countryside. The Cotswolds is a favourite with many retired people – and towns like Burford provide a relaxed retirement lifestyle. You may prefer to live in a larger town with theatres and cinemas on hand like Reigate or Windsor.

This could your opportunity for a whole new start in an area you really like. You may love the idea of being close to the river – or browsing through markets – which is something that towns like Wallingford can offer. Of course, like many retirees, you may choose to live closer to family and friends – and you’ll be able to see them more often without having to travel far. What’s more with shops, services and excellent transport links on your doorstep, you no longer need to drive – which saves a great deal of stress and ever-rising amount of money you need to spend on keeping a car on the road – including petrol.

Ready to find your retirement community?

Take a look at our current and upcoming developments across the south of England, with a range of apartments and houses available.

You can speak to our friendly team who will be able to answer any of your questions, and elaborate on the benefits of each of our individual developments.

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