Age of enjoyment: The active retired are spoilt for choice when looking for buzzy living
Not every retired person longs for the quiet life. Shuffling about in slippers is far from fashionable as people live longer and strive to lead action-packed lives into their 80s.
These are the lively retirees who want plenty of space in quality homes in a buzzing area.
Iain Sinclair, 60, a retired financial services manager, is a good example of this growing breed. Asked what he wants from life and he declares: ‘to stay young!’
Olwen and Iain Sinclair are lively retirees who want plenty of space in quality homes in a buzzing area
His wife, Olwen, a former schoolteacher, is of the same mind: ‘When my mother was my age, she was an old woman. I am not. We’re active and young at heart,’ she says.
The Sinclairs moved from Milton Keynes to a three-bedroom, top-floor apartment in nearby Wolverton Park.
They have a spare bedroom, study and large balcony where they can entertain guests and their six grandchildren.
‘We decided to move to Wolverton Park while we’re still young enough to start again in a new area,’ says Mrs Sinclair.
‘My mother didn’t move until after my father died. She was closer to us, but she had no friends nearby. She was too old to start all over again.’
The Sinclairs have carefully considered how their new apartment will cater for them into old age – the flat has lifts to the top floor, is on one level and close to shops and transport, should a time come when they can no longer drive.
But right now the emphasis for them is on lifestyle and socialising. They were looking for somewhere that was lively and liked Wolverton’s strong sense of community. It seems the Sinclairs are not alone.
Jon Gooding, chief executive of retirement villages UK, says: ‘The baby-boomer generation are much more demanding.’
‘This is the Elvis Presley, rock’n’roll lot. they’ve done well – these are the people who have benefited from house price inflation and indexed pensions.
‘They’ve got the money and don’t want to spend their old age in a room in a care home. they want a good time.’
Palm Garden retirement village in Tregony near Truro
Liam Bailey, the head of residential research at Knight Frank, has studied this group.
‘The design of homes for the retired must acknowledge that the social habits of older people reflect those of the wider population.
‘They want their grandchildren or friends to stay over. Many may be working at home so they may not be downsizing as much as they thought they would. It’s a question of having houses that are much more flexible.’
RobIn Glyn sits in her new apartment in Richmond Letcombe Regis, keeping an eye on the waterfowl in the nature reserve outside her window.
For Mrs Glyn, deciding where to live in her retirement was based on keeping her independence.
‘Our parents left it until their children had to make the decisions for them and that’s what we don’t want – we want to take that decision.’
‘We had to put my mother into residential care where she was safe and looked after, but she was lonely and her life lacked purpose.’
Richmond Letcombe Regis is one of a number of retirement villages, or ‘continuous care retirement communities’, that are springing up around the country.
These purpose-built resorts, a well-established concept in the U.S. and the Antipodes, provide for the health and care needs of people as they age.
The emphasis is on leisure and social activities. Guarding against social isolation is a concern for many retirees.
For Gavin Aleksich, of renaissance LifeCare social interaction, feeling involved in a wider community and participating in life outside the home are what retirement villages are all about.
‘In a village environment, you have a peer group of residents in a similar stage of life, communal facilities in the setting and staff to facilitate and enable residents to participate in their community,’ he says.
Mayford Grange in Woking, Surrey, has a restaurant, bar, library and beauty therapy room, as well as 24-hour care.
Homes in the village look like luxury one or two-bedroom apartments but all have wheelchair-width doors and kitchens designed with accessible ovens, hobs and fittings.
They have wet rooms in the bathrooms and tracking built into the ceiling, ready to cater for the needs of ageing residents discreetly.
‘Retirement should be a positive experience,’ says Aleksich. ‘People expect to live independently and have access to high quality services and amenities.’
Baby boomers have been accused of being a selfish generation saddling their children with a mountain of public debt.
And it looks like their foot-stamping, rule-book-hurling ways might just change the way we think about retirement – for the better. Just don’t tell them that they’re getting old.
WOLVERTON Park (01908 319 748, wolvertonpark.co.uk). Prices start from £160,000 (for a one-bedroom flat). Retirement Villages Ltd (0845 5211857, retirementvillages.co.uk). Knight Frank (knightfrank.com) Richmond Letcombe Regis (01235 773970, richmond-villages.com). Renaissance Lifecare (020 8939 9600, renaissancelifecare.com). Mayford Grange (0845 5211857, mayfordgrange.co.uk).
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