Moving stories reveal the benefit of retirement villages

A recent study by Age UK reports that the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025, which compares to around 1.4 million in 2015, a 49 per cent increase in just 10 years.As Britain’s population rapidly ages, there is an urgent need to ensure we are putting the right foundations in place so older communities will be able to live sociable, fulfilling and healthy lives.Retirement villages, also known as assisted living and extra-care housing, are having a tremendous impact on helping to tackle the issue of loneliness amongst the older population, which is historically rife at Christmas time.The Loneliness Commission reports that feeling lonely and isolated is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and those who report feelings of loneliness are 50 per cent more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social connections.Retirement villages provide residents the opportunity to live in a community of like-minded individuals, whilst remaining in their own home and retaining their independence. A series of social activities and clubs make it easy for residents to socialise with one another and stay mentally stimulated.Various care packages tend to be offered to ensure that residents have the confidence that support is on hand if needed, ranging from help with personal care, companionship or housekeeping.Georgina Hudson, 79, started to suffer from early stage memory problems and slowly withdrew from her community, affecting her wellbeing and quality of life. Her sons encouraged her to move to an assisted living home in which she could keep her independence and feel more supported by a friendly community. Now comfortably settled at retirement village Mickle Hill in Pickering, North Yorkshire, she receives daily support with her house chores and members of staff regularly visit to check up on her.Commenting on the move, her son John, says, “Retirement communities are a relatively new concept, so Mum initially thought it was a care home. But the beauty of Mickle Hill is its sense of independence and space. She quickly realised that there is a very strong sense of community because it really feels like a village. And that’s important for Mum, because she was always very active in her community.“Dementia can make people withdraw from engaging in the community because social interactions become more difficult – you can forget people’s names, for example. Mum is enjoying being encouraged to join in with activities and meet new people. This is something that would never have happened had she not moved.”Mrs Le Page, 90, moved to Mickle Hill last year from her large home in Gloucestershire where she had lived for over 50 years. Her daughter says, “My main concern was that my mother lived far out of any village and a long way from any shops. She was very dependent on other people and I couldn’t always be there for her due to the distance. Following my father passing away earlier in the year, another major concern was that she became isolated and lonely.“It took a while for her to get used to the property’s facilities and the village’s amenities, but the other residents have been very welcoming. It’s nice to see her smile and it gives me real peace of mind to know that she is close by and no longer on her own in a property that’s too large for her.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise