One of the big attractions of living in a retirement community is being able to socialise with other residents of your age.
For single people especially this can be particularly important.
Most retirement developments are designed for social get togethers and have communal areas such as gardens and lounges where you can have a natter over a cup of tea or coffee.
Many also organise activities and events, as well as outings to local attractions and restaurants.
Research by Girlings Retirement Rentals last year found that the majority of people that had moved to one of their retirement developments had made new friends and a third said they were now more socially active than before.
But why should this be important? It’s a well-known fact that being sociable is good for people of all ages, but it’s particularly good for older people.
A study by the University of Texas found that interacting with people keeps older adults more active and improves their wellbeing.
The study found that participants who socialised were more likely to have higher levels of physical activity, spend less time sitting or lying around, have greater positive moods and fewer negative feelings.
Being sociable can also help prevent loneliness.
The Campaign to End Loneliness suggests that a lack of contact with other people is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Older people can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness, as they no longer have their work networks and family may not live close by.
Some may also have lost their partners and find themselves single for the first time since before they were married.
Learning how to socialise again can be hard.
One lady who has found a new lease of life and friendship since moving into a retirement development is Diana Carteur, 65, a former Ballet School Principal.
Previously Diana had lived on a Greek island for nine years where she owned her own property.
She returned to the UK in 2013. Unable to sell her seaside property, she had no choice but to abandon it along with most of her belongings.
On her return to England, Diana stayed with a friend in North London until Harrow Council found her a council flat.
Diana struggled to adapt to her new home. She says, “The flat was nice but I felt very isolated. I had no friends nearby and was one of only two people in my block that spoke English. The area had a high crime rate and I felt frightened to go out. I became reclusive and apart from going to work, I never left my flat or talked to a soul. My health began to deteriorate and I missed living by the sea.”
In desperation Diana decided to move to Weymouth where her family was from originally and where she had lived when her children were small.
Diana found an apartment at Jenner Court and went to view it.
She really liked the development and the area.
Jenner Court has lovely communal gardens and enjoys the best of both worlds; being close to the beach and the town, as well as being just a few minutes’ walk from beautiful countryside.
The rental apartment also came with an assured ‘lifetime’ tenancy.
Diana moved in in December 2017.
Since then her health and wellbeing has improved enormously.
Her blood pressure had risen to dangerously high levels during her time in Harrow, but since her move it has fallen to a normal level.
Diana now leads a rich and busy life in stark contrast to the social isolation she experienced when she first moved back to the UK.
She walks by the sea every day and enjoys pottering around her patio and the communal gardens with her neighbour who has become a great friend.
Diana has also joined an indoor lawn bowls club which she visits several times a week and where she has made many friends.
“For me, and I’m sure for a lot of other older people, I need to know that I have extra support at home and that I’m safe because I don’t have a family network around me,” she says.
“Living here has given me that sense of security. I also find it really reassuring that I can stay in my home as long as I like, especially after the upheaval of the last few years.”
For more information on Girlings Retirement Rentals visit www.girlings.co.uk