Social connection matters, most especially as we age.
Not only does it delay health problems related to ageing, but it provides us with happiness, security, support and a sense of purpose, says beyondblue.
It’s for this reason RetireAustralia’s retirement villages are designed to provide facilities and services that lead to improved social interaction and health outcomes.
By responding to the 21st-century retiree’s desire for active, positive and connected lifestyles, RetireAustralia’s 27 communities across South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland are ideal for those wishing to stay independent and healthy for as long as possible.
In many villages, residents decide what activities take place and are involved in running the events.
Torrens Grove Retirement Village at Kilkenny in inner-north-west Adelaide is home to an active group of independent living and care apartment residents who enjoy a wide range of social activities and events.
Michael Henley and his wife, Dianne, have lived at Torrens Grove for nine years.
“There are a lot of opportunities for activities here,” Michael said.
“We have our own dining room and restaurant with a chef, so there are always regular functions.
“We have happy hour three nights a week, I do the calling for the bingo, and every month we have a barbecue.”
While many enjoy regular participation in the social happenings at their village, residents are free to be involved at a level they are comfortable with.
“You can do what you want and participate in the village activities as much as you want to – if you don’t, that’s okay,” Michael said.
“The majority of people get to know everyone within a short space of time.”
Independent living resident Marlene Miller moved to Torrens Grove in November 2017 with her husband, Ray, and has been enjoying the connected lifestyle ever since.
“The people and the companionship are fantastic,” she said.
“You feel welcome every day, and it’s just a lovely feeling.”
Recent research findings mirror many residents’ experiences.
The 2018 AOR/villages.com.au National Village Resident Survey showed that only 6% of residents were ‘not satisfied’ with their overall village experience, from nearly 20,000 responses.
Additionally, a 2016 study of South Australian retirement village residents showed that 79% said they were happy with their level of involvement in their village community, 84% said they like living where they live, and 94% said they enjoy life in the village.
The chance to regularly connect with friends in a comfortable, secure environment is a major factor in many retirement village residents’ levels of happiness.
Care apartment resident Barbara Bobridge has lived at Bartonvale Gardens at Enfield in inner-north Adelaide since 2016.
“We have lovely amenities here and there’s always something to do,” she said.
“We have bingo, cards, exercise classes, movies, trivia, bowls, board games and morning teas.
“They are all opportunities to get to know other residents, and it’s a lovely atmosphere.”
Betty Greig, a resident of Bartonvale Gardens since 2013, enjoys the opportunity to connect with friends both inside and outside the village.
“We have eight-ball, art classes, concerts, barbecues, and on Wednesdays we have our ‘Knit n Chat’ group,” she said.
“Plenty of chatting gets done but not much knitting!
“We have lots of little outings, including trips to cinemas to see different films, and I organise a tour every month to a nice winery or on a day cruise.”
George Adams of Tea Tree Gardens said his number of social connections has increased exponentially since he moved to the Hope Valley retirement community in 2015.
“We lived in a residential area for 50 years, and I know more people here after three years than I did living there for 50,” he said.
“It’s like a neighbourhood or a small European village where everybody cares for each other.”
For many, social lives are closely linked to careers, but making the transition to retirement doesn’t have to result in a decrease in connection.
At Tarragal Glen on New South Wales’s Central Coast, opportunities to spend time with like-minded people are plentiful.
Judith Wennerbom has lived at the Erina community for 12 years.
“We’ve had some wonderful dinners and there are a lot of things to get involved in,” she said.
“We play cards, bowls, and there are classes like Pilates and aqua aerobics – it’s wonderful.”
Fellow resident Bronwyn Thwaites has spent an active eight years at Tarragal Glen.
“I get involved in dinners and lunches, and the gym, which has been increased with new additions,” she said.
“I’ve made lots of really nice friends here, and I never thought I’d be so busy in retirement!”
Glengara Retirement Village at Tumbi Umbi on the Central Coast offers an equally expansive range of things to do.
Brenda Carkeet and Chicky Desmet have enjoyed getting involved in their first twelve months at the village.
“I go to all the dinners that have been on – they’ve all been fantastic,” Brenda said.
“The social club that puts these things together is absolutely amazing.”
“There’s a really good community feel, and everybody is so friendly,” Chicky said.
“If I paid to go to a resort somewhere, I’d be looking for a swimming pool, some activities, nice surroundings and things to do, and I’ve got that every day at Glengara!”
Australians over the age of 76 are currently the happiest people in the country, reaching a life satisfaction score of 79.7 according to the latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index.
Social connection is central to maintaining this level of happiness in retirement, and living at a RetireAustralia village is a positive, safe and rewarding way to do so.
Explore our villages today to discover more about the connected lifestyles on offer.