Human beings are an innately social species. Throughout our lives, we seek out others for all kinds of reasons, from companionship to friendship, romance and even exercise. It’s a proven fact that social interactions and emotional connections generate happiness, which plays an important role in our overall wellbeing.
Our need and desire for social engagement does not diminish as we age. So, when we enter retirement, maintaining friendships and being socially active is as important as ever.
Retirement villages are a place for old friends and new, where like-minded individuals can come together to create vibrant and thriving communities. They are designed to combat social isolation by encouraging and facilitating social interaction and connectedness to enrich life in retirement.
Over the years as Oak Tree’s director and founder, I have seen so many residents expand their social circle and develop new friendships and connections. A recent example is we have seen a new group of friends come together at Oak Tree Toowoomba who now go on cruises together, and others who have found love.
There are so many ways retirement villages make it easier to improve your social life and find true, genuine connections. Let’s take a look at how retirement villages create vibrant and thriving communities.
One of the many benefits of living in a retirement village is being surrounded by like-minded people who genuinely love their community and enjoy getting on with life, rather than retiring from it.
Most retirement villages require residents to be over 55 years of age, and so you can have peace of mind knowing that your neighbours are at a similar life stage to you. Coming from similar age ranges gives you ample opportunity for social connection, forge new friendships and make new memories. It also creates a real sense of community and belonging, which research has shown plays an important role in boosting physical health and mental and emotional wellbeing.
Being surrounded by like-minded neighbours also means you won’t have to worry about living next door to energetic young families – although families and grandchildren are more than welcome to visit you too.
What’s important to remember is that it’s not the layout, design or location of a retirement village that makes it special – it’s the people. Bricks and mortar may house residents, but the vibrant communities inside the villages, all with their own unique culture, are the beating heart.
The community facilities, social activities and events in villages are designed to enrich your life, give you the opportunity to engage with other residents and fend off any feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Even though social activities vary from village to village, they can include aqua aerobics in the community pool, a game of bowls against your neighbours, and high teas and BBQs. The diverse range of recreational facilities and services ensures you have everything you need to lead the life you love.
At Oak Tree, we understand that every resident’s dream lifestyle is unique and we respect their different interests, beliefs and backgrounds. And so, it is completely up to you as to how involved you want to be – you can participate in as much or as little as you would like to.
The staff who work in a retirement village, especially those that you see regularly, play just as an important role in creating a warm and vibrant community. Their attitude and behaviour towards you and the relationships you have can make a huge difference to ensure that you are receiving the quality of retirement you deserve.
Here at Oak Tree, we wholeheartedly believe that all staff can benefit from being involved in the village activities. There is so much to be learnt from having our staff engage with our residents and we can use this knowledge to ensure continuous improvement to enhance our village offering.
Often times there will also be a dedicated Manager at every retirement village. They are a vital link for communication in the village and provide security to the residents who know they can easily communicate with them in times of need and reach out to for help in-person. They will also look after everything from keeping the community spaces clean through to landscaping and general repairs. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to do more of what you love; whether it’s catching up with friends and family, travelling, or pursuing new hobbies with your newfound friends.
One of the best ways to get a feel for a retirement village is to book a private tour and speak to residents and staff to get a real understanding of what life inside the village is like.
Retirement villages are a community so it’s important you feel a sense of belonging with your neighbours from the outset. You may also want to consider inviting your family to the village to spend time understanding the offering and facilities with you.
If safe, vibrant and caring communities sound like what you’re looking for, then contact Oak Tree’s friendly staff to learn more about their boutique retirement villages and how they could suit you.
You may also like to consider downloading the helpful free checklist put together by Starts at 60 in partnership with Oak Tree: “Considering a Retirement Village: The Ultimate Checklist”. This free e-guide is packed with critical information and easy-to-complete exercises to help guide your journey into retirement living.
Download your copy of the 'Considering a Retirement Village - The Ultimate Checklist' which provides comprehensive information on everything you need to know before you start your journey into retirement village living.