We plan for every major event in our lives – birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, big trips – and sometimes even plan for our deaths, so it makes sense to put the same amount of planning into where we’ll live when we retire.
That’s exactly what Tony and Marian Giglia did. They were 65 when they moved into a Bethanie retirement community 11 months ago but they’d been turning over the decision for almost five years before that.
The couple had lived just 250 metres down the road from Bethanie Gwelup in Perth for years and had watched the community growing, which prompted them to think about whether a retirement village might be the best place to spend the next stage of their lives.
“We did lots of research,” Marian says. “We looked into what was available in retirement communities within our desired price range and what ongoing costs would be each year. We compared them all and started by ruling out the ones we didn’t like.”
The Giglias didn’t want to downsize too much from their large family home so the generous size of an apartment they viewed at Bethanie Gwelup was a real winner.
Now, almost a year since moving in, the couple, whose son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons live within easy reach via the nearby freeway, are very happily settled in their new home. “We just love it,” Marian says. “Every day we say to ourselves ‘how lucky are we?’.”
Marian has a few words of wisdom for people who aren’t sure whether a retirement community would suit their retirement plans.
“My advice would be not to leave it until you’re too old,” she says. “I think a lot of people think retirement villages are for when you’re in your 70s and 80s, but we’d disagree completely with that.
“Do your homework and have a good look around, know your budget and what you can afford to spend each year. That way you can rule things out or rule things in, according to what you want.”
Since moving to Bethanie Gwelup, one of the things that Marian and Tony enjoy most is the busy roster of social events and functions laid on for residents. They also love having their neighbours over for a coffee or going for a walk around the lake and taking their grandkids to play in the park.
Bethanie’s villages also offer a range of lifestyle facilities that you’d expect of a resort-style retirement community, including swimming pools, bowling greens, gyms, clubhouses, hair salons, libraries and Men’s Sheds.
“We’ve made lots of friends,” Marian says. “Everyone is so friendly and helpful and it’s quite sociable.” And now they’ve got no big house and yard to maintain, the couple have plenty of time to socialise.
This sense of community has never been more important and apparent than in the current Covid-19 climate.
The support and professionalism from the staff at Bethanie has also made the couple feel more comfortable in these uncertain times. While they were disappointed to see their favourite facilities temporality closed, the couple praised the decision, noting that it’s just an extra factor that cements that they made the right decision to move in to a Bethanie village —hand sanitiser has been placed throughout the village for residents to use, and regular email updates are being sent out to keep residents informed.
“Bethanie have done an excellent job at providing us with plenty of information,” Tony says. “They’ve done an outstanding job. I think they’ve handled the logistics of it — closing off facilities that presented a risk — really well.
“From our point of view, we wanted to position ourselves somewhere where we were part of a community where we could build relationships and friendships,” Tony says. “If anything, the pandemic has only confirmed what our reasons were for coming here.”
Marian adds that while they’ve been careful to follow social-distancing rules, they haven’t felt isolated throughout the pandemic, as they’ve been able to keep in touch with neighbours and share a cup of tea in outdoor areas or have a quick chat as they pass – at a 1.5 metre distance, of course.
“From a health and wellbeing perspective, being in a place like this has made it easier,” she says.
But while lifestyle facilities and social activities aren’t uncommon in top-notch retirement communities, there are three other factors that really set Bethanie apart and underline Bethanie’s commitment to its residents’ wellbeing.
Firstly, Bethanie offers a full continuum of services, including retirement villages, serviced apartments, aged care homes, home care services and living well centres. Continuity of care means residents have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that, no matter how their health may change as they age, Bethanie will be a partner in navigating those changes.
For example, if you’re a resident in a Bethanie retirement community, you can easily obtain home care services through Bethanie, ranging from a little bit of assistance with the cooking or cleaning to more intensive health care – all without the hassle of having to choose an external home care provider.
And should you later need to transition to residential aged care, Bethanie offers a specialist transition team that will help you negotiate the move from independent living to one of its higher-care facilities, covering everything from the sale of your property to getting settled in your Bethanie residential care.
Secondly, Bethanie has a ‘try before you buy’ option on its serviced apartments at Bethanie on the Park in Menora, so you can live in the village for a week at no cost to see if it suits you before committing to a contract. In addition, when you move into one of the new apartments at Menora, you can trial having freshly-cooked meals delivered daily and laundry and cleaning services done for three months at no cost without making a commitment.
If you find you like the services, you can continue to use any or all of them, because Bethanie provides the flexibility for residents to tailor their own experience.
Finally, if you choose one of the new apartments at Bethanie on the Park, when it comes time to leave, Bethanie guarantees to return any funds outstanding from the sale of your property within 45 days. This means you can move on to your next stage of life without any delay.
Bethanie is able to offer these commitments because it’s a not-for-profit provider, which allows it to invest any profit it makes in better services and facilities for residents. And it’s upfront about the cost of living in its communities, providing potential buyers with a full breakdown of charges and helping them understand the financial commitment.
Marian says it was these honest, caring touches that reassured her and husband Tony that Bethanie Gwelup was the right place for them.
“Bethanie were so wonderful to us,” Marian says. “They gave us advice here and there throughout the whole process, and made the effort to let other residents know we were moving and encouraging them to make us feel welcome.
“Our friends see how happy we are here and they want that for themselves.”
Find a new passion, meet interesting and like-minded people, or even take the time to go on that holiday you’ve always dreamed of. At Bethanie, retirement means giving you space for the things that make your life richer.