Making the most of retirement
Retirement marks one of the biggest milestones in life. Not simply because of the decisions about what we will do with this new freedom, but because our networks of family, friends and colleagues are also changing. Friends disperse, the family grows up, neighbours move.
In this new ‘COVID-normal’ world of lockdowns and isolation, the value of friendships and community has taken on even more significance to the Baby Boomer generation as they consider how to live their best life in retirement.
And like Baby Boomers always have done, they know what they want.
Phillip Sellwood, Manager of Carinity Retirement Villages, says that social support is one of the key factors for older Australians thinking of moving to a retirement village.
“A well-planned residential facility ticks the boxes of security; of spacious, well-maintained and pleasant accommodation; and excellent facilities. But equally important to people is making friends and being part of a community,” Phillip says.
There are five Carinity retirement villages in south-east and central Queensland.
“Every village is unique in character and style, but they all reflect the core principle of Carinity – that meeting the needs of our residents goes beyond bricks and mortar,” says Phillip.
“We are committed to nurturing thriving communities which meet the social and spiritual needs of the people who live there. That’s when a house becomes a home.”
New kid on the block
Joan moved to Carinity Wishart Gardens two years ago. She’s a friendly and generous lady who lives out her Christian faith.
“God said to me, ‘You could help’, so I am,” she says simply.
She drives people to the shops when they need a lift and is always ready to befriend newcomers.
“I come from a professional background and worked in hostels and aged care. We welcomed everyone, we all knew each other and we encouraged people to come to events. I take that same approach to retirement living.”
Joan’s neighbour, Pat, moved to Wishart Gardens from Bribie Island last November. Pat admits it wasn’t easy leaving her former home.
“I had a close circle of friends and the necessary change from a double story home on Bribie to a single step home in Brisbane was a big, but wise, move. I’m a lucky lady. I have Joan on one side and Marian on the other and have been warmly welcomed by everyone I’ve met,” she says.
Pat has taken advantage of the activities on offer and feels at home in her new community. “Having friends enriches life. At Wishart, I have gained many,” she adds.
Looking out for each other
Barbara has been a resident at Carinity Brownesholme in Highfields for nearly six years. She didn’t know anyone before moving in. She chose Brownesholme because she loved the trees and the fact that you can’t see into anyone’s yard.
“I had no problem settling in. I live on a particularly friendly street but you can be private if you want to.”
Barbara enjoys the activities such as bowls, exercise and socialising, but it’s the sense of looking out for each other that makes her feel part of a caring community.
“We keep a check on our neighbours. If I don’t pull my window up in the morning, someone will rush over!”
She has developed a close friendship with Mary.
“We do look after each other,” agrees Mary. “It’s great having friends here, and there are many different people, so you learn a lot and develop new skills such as art, card games and mahjong.”
For Bev and her husband, retirement living has freed them from the burden of maintaining a large house. They’ve been able to travel to New Zealand, along with Margaret, a close friend that Bev has made since living at Brownesholme.
“Moving in was the best thing we ever did,” says Bev. “We don’t want to look after a big place. We love it here.”
“Living here is about quality of living, it’s a beautiful place to enjoy our retirement – friendly and secure.”
Mind, body and soul
Humans are social beings. The COVID-19 pandemic, when almost every Australian experienced isolation in some form, has thrown a new spotlight on the mental and physical health impacts of loneliness and isolation.
For seniors especially, maintaining a social and healthy lifestyle can be challenging, says Phillip.
“One of the inevitable consequences of aging is declining mobility and losing connection to social networks and interest groups. People also may be grieving the loss of a loved one or caring full-time for their partner.”
The decision to move to a retirement community can offer singles and couples a renewed interest in life, in an active community of their peers.’
“We are never too old to make new friends, and it’s good for mind, body and spirit. There’s clear evidence that increased social interaction, learning new skills and making new friends can improve a senior’s mental and physical health. Happiness is good for us all,” Phillip says.
Interested in retirement living at Carinity? Visit our retirement website or call 1300 109 109.
Read more stories from Belong: Autumn 2022 | Edition 25