Having finally hung up the chalk after a very long teaching career, my new career is: travelling, blogging and writing from the beautiful northern end of the NSW coast.
You can read about my progress at www.maureendurney.com
Life is Good!
Published July 21st 2016
Affordable Accommodation For Golden Oldies
As Baby Boomers enter their twilight years the thought of future accommodation is usually tucked away in a corner of their mind, resurfacing every time a new twinge is felt or another task becomes more difficult to manage. Those stairs leading up to the front door that used to keep them fit, might now be leaving them breathless by the time they get to the top. And the stairs are the least of their worries, because if they don't have a strong support network, the future could be more than a bit daunting.
What worries the older generation most is who will look after them when they can no longer manage independently. They fear ending up in a high-support facility, alone and forgotten now that their children have grown up and moved on. We know that moving house is a traumatic experience at any time of life, but it becomes even more difficult as we age, especially if the affordable choices of where to move to are shrinking with every birthday we celebrate past official retirement age.
But what if there was a stepping stone that could lead golden oldies gently from their suburban home to a supported environment? An affordable mid-way place that could provide them with independent living and a support network, without the feel of a support facility. And what if this option could slow down the ageing process, or make the eventual need for high support unnecessary? Would it be worth considering?
If this has raised questions in your mind, either for yourself or an ageing loved one, then step onto the stepping stone with me, and be surprised at where it leads.
Developers have recognised the needs of our ageing population and are opening more retirement complexes, the perfect stepping stone from big home to supported living. Independent living is catered for and encouraged, and units and bungalows are designed with this in mind. For a fraction of the cost of buying a suburban home, a bungalow or unit in a retirement village will provide the same benefits as living in the suburbs, but with some very surprising bonuses. Your village neighbours become part of your support network, so you can pack your bags and take off on a cruise or extended holiday, safe in the knowledge that your neighbours will be looking out for your place while you're away. Not that there is much risk of anything happening anyway; life in the village is as safe as it gets.
And to keep you young, the range of activities offered is limited only by your imagination. If you have a need, there will be a group to cater for it. There are a number of organised events, but mostly, smaller groups of like-minded residents make their own activities, including exercise, swimming, gardening, sporting events, craft, and no shortage of coffee, lunch and dinner dates. In some villages you'll find a well-equipped shed where residents can build and create, as well as a community garden for all the green thumbs. But the real bonus is the friends you'll make who will walk beside you into your most senior years, making the transition barely noticeable.
As your needs change, so does the support. In some villages there is an option for semi-independent living, where your meals are provided and housework taken care of in a smaller unit. This frees you up for some very serious travelling.
And if you think these options are only for the very elderly, think again. Most villages cater for over 55's, so there is a wide range in both age and ability within the village. What better way to make friends, have company when you want it, but be able to crawl back into your cave when you want 'alone' time. Although, with all the social opportunities available to you, I doubt you will want to spend much time alone. Most villages have a pool and at least one unique feature, for example a bowling green, or a lake to sit by and read the latest novel by your favourite author. And if you need it, there are support staff on site to help you; from the little things like changing a light bulb to assistance for emergency health needs. Knowing that you are still independent, but have the support there if you need it will take the pressure off relatives who would otherwise be worried about your welfare.
And because the units are so generously sized, having relatives visit will be no problem. The units in most complexes are surprisingly big - definitely not the 'shoebox' dwellings that we used to associate with senior accommodation. Part of being a grandparent is being able to have grandchildren visit long enough to spoil them and then hand them back to their parents - and that certainly won't change with a move into a retirement village.
Aveo is just one group that provides retirement villages in Australia, and their complex in Murwillumbah is the ultimate in peaceful living, set in 28 acres of beautiful bushland, but still only minutes from town, and with public transport at the door. More and more people are swapping the big house for retirement village living, where you really do get the best of both worlds. It is far better that you make the choice sooner, while you still can, than to risk having relatives make the decision for you because you left it too late.
If you are a golden oldie thinking about what future accommodation will look like, do yourself a favour and check out a retirement village near you. Then, you just need to kick back and age very disgracefully.