Retirement village living combats loneliness

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Loneliness and isolation are halved by those living in a retirement village according to a recent report from the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK). The report has found that the quality of life is majorly improved for those who move to residential retirement developments with flexible extra care solutions. 

The ILC report was funded by Audley Retirement and Bupa, with residents of the retirement villages surveyed on their quality of life compared with those living in the community. The research uncovered that retirement village life endorses further feelings of independence and offers wider opportunities for later-life planning, such as extra car. 

Nick Sanderson, CEO of Audley Retirement Villages, said: “We have long known that retirement villages offering extra care have a positive impact on those living in them. Extra care housing offers people the opportunity to live in a community of like-minded individuals while remaining in their own home and retaining their independence.”

With only 12 percent of retirement village residents feeling lonely, compared with 23 percent in the community, it’s no wonder retirement communities, such as Audley's, are extremely desirable with most villages selling out before apartments are even built. 

The research proves that a communal environment is more likely to reduce social isolation, especially for those from rural and remote homes. The study found:

  • 82 percent of village owners said they hardly ever or never felt isolated
  • 55 per cent felt in-tune with those around them
  • 79 percent hardly ever or never felt left out.  

A strong sense of control over their daily lives was also found to be a crucial factor in their quality of life measurement, with residents experiencing a 10 percent higher sense of control than their in-the-community counterparts. Security was also an important factor, and 97 percent of retirement village owners said they felt safe where they lived.

Nick Sanderson, said: “We were particularly pleased to see the ILC report reveal that residents feel a greater sense of control, and importantly a sense of community. Living in the right accommodation, with flexible care gives our owners the opportunity to live their lives as they choose, on their terms. 

"We are faced with a growing older population, and this generation are more ambitious and active than ever. It's crucial that there is a better supply of good quality housing that meets their changing needs. Extra care is a seemingly simple concept, but the government, business and society urgently need to accelerate the provision of alternatives to current solutions; alternatives like extra care housing that can help give older people what they need and want, as well as help the NHS avoid a care crisis."

The ageing population in 20 years’ time will have an increase in the over 85’s by two and a half times more than in 2010. Loneliness not only has a negative emotional impact on people but research has found that it can increase cognitive decline in older people and even be proportioned to a 64 percent heightened risk of dementia. With over 800,000 people in England suffering from chronic loneliness, which will increase in line with the population growth, this could cause huge strains on the NHS.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK, said: “This research helps confirm that good housing is good for us. Communal living commonly found in extra care and retirement villages seems to positive impact on loneliness, with very few respondents to our research saying they felt a high degree of loneliness or isolation. 

“New and innovative models for providing social care are crucial to address rising costs for care in an ageing society. But we simply aren't building enough aspirational housing for old age. Government must ensure that planning supports the development and promotion of alternative models of housing with care."

The report findings call on the government to work with the private sector and encourage quality retirement housing construction, as well as raising awareness among the early older age to consider moving to such developments. With the new pensions freedoms, further advice on housing opportunities should also be made available to people. 

To download the entire report, please click here.