‘My retirement village became my substitute family during coronavirus lockdown’

Jun 09, 2020
Initially reluctant to move into a retirement village, this community member found many positives to be grateful for - especially when she went into lockdown. Source: Stock Photo/Getty Images

I loved my home. It was in a nice suburb at the end of a long driveway and when I arrived home, opened the door and stepped inside I felt safe. This was my place. Nobody else’s. Just mine.

One day when one of my children used the words, “Mum, have you ever thought it might be nice to move into a retirement village?” in a casual conversation I felt slightly defensive. Retirement villages were for old people. Something that I accepted might be in the future one day. But not now. I was healthy, able to take care of myself and I felt a little upset if the truth be known.

I admit, it was not as easy to look after the garden anymore. I had to pay someone to come in and keep it looking good. Cleaning windows was also something I struggled with and the stairs seemed a little steeper each year.

Lying in bed after that conversation, my mind turned to what had been said. I suddenly realised that 72 was well in the retirement village age range. I’d heard it was sensible to make the move sooner rather than later. At an age when I was still able to make new friends, join in activities yet still continue with my extremely busy outside social life.

Before too long I’d sold my beloved house and made the move, just 5 minutes away to a brand new village in an area I was familiar with. Close to where my parents had lived, my children had gone to school and somewhere I felt very comfortable.

It was the best move I could possibly have made. I bought a lovely two-bedroom apartment, with a large, sunny lounge and a delightful balcony from where I could people watch as I sat in a comfy chair with a coffee or a glass of wine in my hand!

The people were those I both liked and related to. Not old fuddy duddies these! Vibrant people who had travelled (and still did), those who had, like me, led interesting, and yes even exciting, lives.

A very reasonable lifetime weekly charge covered rates, insurance, gardening, maintenance and water — even window washing. Not to mention the wonderful facilities that families were welcome to use when they visit. My four-year-old grandson had heard about my new house for many months before I was able to move in and when he first visited he assumed everything was mine. ‘Nana’s pool’ and ‘Nana’s cinema’ were a big hit!

Two years of happy living seemed to go by in a flash and then coronavirus reared its ugly head. Lockdown followed. Level 4 meant just that — lockdown. Stay at home. It wasn’t safe for we over-70s. We were now the vulnerable ones. Life as we’d known it for so many years suddenly changed. For everyone, of course, but it was really hard on us ‘oldies’.

These weeks, though, have gone by quite fast. We’ve been able to walk around the beautiful grounds and talk to our friends, albeit from a distance. We’ve made our own ‘happy hours’ in small groups, spacing our chairs so we’re keeping to the ‘rules’.

If I’d still been in my previous home I would have missed out on this wonderful camaraderie. I wouldn’t have these great people to laugh with and share memories with. I’m accepted. I feel respected and valued. And like before, I feel safe.

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