The surprising joys of community
From better health and wellbeing to greater longevity and social connection, living in a residential over 55s community can enrich your life in ways you may not yet have imagined…
“Retirement is when you stop living at work and start working at living,”
goes the quote, which hints at the gifts to be discovered when you suddenly have more freedom.
These days, retirement means different things to different people. You may still be working or exploring new opportunities.
Perhaps you want a sea change; to wake up in a place that brings calm. Or maybe it’s time to take that class or trip you long dreamed of before other responsibilities took over. Either way, it’s now the perfect time to focus on your passions, discover new interests, reinvigorate your social life and fill your day with rich pursuits…or, to relax, enjoy and marvel at all that you’ve achieved.
If you’re thinking about what to do next, moving to a place that’s intentionally designed to enrich your lifestyle, such as a retirement or over 55s community, may provide the answer. It’s the perfect environment to support evolving aspirations. Want enhanced wellbeing? Social joy? A sense of fulfillment and belonging? Read on to discover a few of the invaluable ways that making such a change can improve your life.
Everything is better with nature
If you’ve ever dreamed about moving, away from the city hustle bustle and the urban sprawl, here’s a good reason to pack the car and find a more tranquil setting. Where you live can significantly influence both your quality of life and health.
Being surrounded by nature promotes physical, mental and spiritual healing according to one scientific study which found that having daily access to green and blue spaces (from leafy wilderness to sparkling seas) is essential for healthy ageing.
The therapeutic benefits of natural surrounds should not be underestimated; breathe in the fresh air, take in the view, spend a mindful moment appreciating nature’s gifts, and you’ll feel immediately better for it. And to be a local in a place known for its untouched wilderness or glittering beaches? That will bring you an enduring sense of pride.
Friends can lengthen your lifespan
An ongoing benefit of moving to a retirement community is knowing you’re surrounded by friendly neighbours.
It’s not unusual for neighbours to become friends, and for those friends to feel more like family. And besides the delight that social connection inspires, there’s a seriously good reason for community living.
Research has found that having a strong network of friends around you is key to boosting your lifespan and health and wellbeing. An Australian study conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University, found that those with a large group of friends lived 22% longer than those with little or no social contact. The authors suggest that companions discourage unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and drinking, and the comfort friends provide may help reduce the risk of depression and increase self-esteem.
Communities inspire wellbeing
Having friends available to experience life with, to have fun, get active and explore your surroundings, means there’s always something to look forward to. A stroll and a chat with a neighbour is an exercise that will nourish you physically and socially.
A large Australian study of the retirement living sector found that seniors who live in intentional communities experience benefits to their health and wellbeing, including fewer visits to hospitals, a reduction in the frequency of GP visits and better mental health. According to a recent large scale British study, residents of retirement communities were shown to be 75 percent more physically active than those who opted to stay in their family homes and spend 12 less day on average in hospital a year. And retirees who become residents are less anxious, more healthy and have a better sense of wellbeing generally. Now, add the spectacular Australian sunshine, exquisite native wilderness, sparkling coastline, exceptional food and it’s a life you can’t help but appreciate.
You’ll always have a place to belong
If the enforced isolation of the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is more important than being together. Video-calling may have helped us stay in touch with loved ones during tough times, but there’s no substitute for the feeling you get when you meet someone face to face.
“People with social support have fewer cardiovascular problems and immune problems, and lower levels of cortisol – a stress hormone,” says Tasha R. Howe, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Humboldt State University.
“Why? The evolutionary argument maintains that humans are social animals, and we have evolved to be in groups. We have always needed others for our survival. It’s in our genes. Therefore, people with social connections feel more relaxed and at peace, which is related to better health and wellbeing.”
The peace of mind that goes hand in hand with living in a community embodies this idea; you may not see your neighbours every day, but you know they’re there looking out for you, because you’re looking out for them. And knowing people care about you is one of the greatest joys of all.