The Rise of the Retirement Village

For the first time in history there are more people over the age of 65 in the UK than there are school children, and not only are people living longer but they are healthier and living better as well. This is an issue that has been in the news recently with the government’s proposals to increase the age of retirement and alter pension policies, and also with reports into how care homes are run and the quality of care found within them.
For many, the prospect of retirement and becoming elderly is one of grave concern, and it can also be of concern to their family and loved ones. There are many elderly people who require constant care, either from professionals or loved ones, due to medical or degenerative conditions, but there are also many who don’t need such permanent assistance, they just need someone to ‘keep an eye on them’.
Sadly this might not be as easy as it sounds as communities are not as close and caring as they once were, families can be scattered across the country, and sons and daughters may have their own little ones that have their own demands on time and resources. For some, a retirement home becomes an increasingly more viable but still unattractive option. After all, retirement homes don’t have the happiest of images people sitting in the same chair in a community room for 12 hours a day with no visitors and nothing but daytime TV for entertainment. However, retirement villages are changing the perspective of the traditional retirement home.
Retirement villages are built with three principles in mind: Housing, community and access to care. The aim of a retirement village is, of course, to provide an elderly person with a home, but unlike the traditional care home in which a person will get a room, in a village they can have either their own apartment or even a small bungalow. The key point is that they have their own front door.
Retirement villages exist to create a close community by providing central facilities such as restaurants and clubrooms, the provision of sports equipment, internet access, libraries and various other amenities.
They also aim to provide care for all residents that are appropriate to an individual’s needs. Therefore if you are a spritely 65yr old that still enjoys heading to the golf course three times a week and only requires someone to clean your bungalow once a week, that’s what you get. But if you’re needs are greater and these can range from help with tasks due to limited mobility, assistance with medication, to full time care for people living with dementia or convalescence and respite care then the care services of a retirement village could provide whatever you need.
The aim of a village is to provide a person with as much independence as that person wants and can cope with while providing opportunities and for enjoyment, leisure and wellbeing.
So far, we have talked about how great retirement villages are, but are there any downsides? There are two major ones: the first is that compared to the traditional retirement home, there are not many villages in the UK. According to ARVOUK (The Association of Retirement Village Operators UK) there are no villages in Wales or Scotland. They are on the increase as knowledge of their existence and popularity of an active retirement life increases, but for the time being they number in the tens, rather than hundreds or thousands.
Two reasons for low numbers are that a village requires a large space and significant investment to develop, and space is not as easy to come by as in, say, the USA, where retirement villages started and are very popular.
The second downside to being in a retirement village is cost. Prices will, of course, vary from company to company, village to village and depend on the type of accommodation required, but it’s safe to say they are not cheap by ‘normal’ housing conditions. You could easily spend over £250,000 for an apartment or bungalow, and then there are the on-going monthly fixed charges that will go towards covering things like maintenance of buildings and grounds.
The companies that run the villages will remind you of the facilities they provide not just the leisure amenities but nursing, 24-hour emergency response and various others too. Therefore you may want to do some serious research into a retirement village and decide if you are likely to make use of everything they have on offer and get a breakdown of all costs as although you may be able to afford the initial outgoings from selling your own home, continuing costs, especially if they may increase, could become crippling to your finances.This article was written by Rob Powell from Confused.com who offer over 60 life insurance.

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