My mum is in the process of waiting for her two-bedroom, two-bathroom home to be built at a retirement village an hour’s drive from a major city.
I don’t need to mention which city because these mini universes are popping up all over the country.
Aged in her 70s, a big home had been slowly losing its appeal over the past two years, and as the caravan plans dominated the yearly calendar, the lawns fell further down the list of priorities.
When her husband was diagnosed with a rare but curable blood cancer earlier this year, living in a retirement village, closer to major infrastructure, surrounded by like-minded strangers sharing the joys of gentle exercise and wines at sunset became alluring.
Call it an Over 55s, community living, lifestyle community, lock and go – retirement villages are a trend that’s growing in popularity.
With a list of features that includes gyms, shops, swimming pools, golf, arts and crafts, events… you name it, these places cater for it… my mum was drawn like a moth to a flame, or so I thought.
My brother and I weren’t convinced this was a wise move.
Hesitant about her downsizing from a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, a few streets from the beach and big enough to house a few teenage grandchildren on school holidays, to a let’s call it cozy, new build in a gated community, we weren’t sold.
However, in a new report released this week, it seems retirement village living is what will not only keep her alive and happy, but will also save me money.
The Retirement Living Council (RLC) found Australians living in retirement villages are helping save taxpayers almost $1 billion in health care costs by delaying their entry into aged care.
A new national report entitled Better Housing for Better Health revealed not only are they providing affordable housing for retirees, but they’re also helping them live longer.
“Retirement villages across Australia are already saving the government a billion dollars a year, by delaying residents’ entry into aged care, and quite simply, we need more of them,” Retirement Living Council executive director Daniel Gannon says.
“People who live in retirement communities are less lonely and less depressed than older Australians who live independently, because retirement communities encourage physical wellbeing and social interaction – which all translates to economic benefits for governments.
“For the first time, this report shows how our sector has actual solutions to Australia’s two biggest worrying trends – our housing crisis and our rapidly ageing population,” he said.
Some of the key findings from Better Housing for Better Health include the reduction of national expenditure on aged care by $945 million annually, delaying entry into aged care by two years, less reliance on healthcare systems and less hospitalisations.
Apparently, the current pipeline of retirement communities will reduce the housing shortage by 18%, and if we keep building retirement villages at the rate we are, we could reduce Australia’s housing shortage by 67%.
Closer to home the report found residents in retirement communities were 15% more physically active, 41% happier, five times more socially active, and twice as likely to catch up with friends.
They also showed reduced levels of depression and loneliness.
Mr Gannon said there are currently two million Australians aged over 75 and this cohort will increase by 70% to 3.4 million by 2040.
“This population shift will have socio-economic impacts on Australia, including the housing supply shortage and the pressure on an already struggling residential aged care sector,” he said.
The good news is my mum’s husband has received “the all-clear” health-wise.
The pair is continuing to eagerly await the completion of the building of their first taste of retirement village living.
Whether the Baby-Boomers’ move to retirement living ultimately makes them happier and the rest of us richer – well, that remains to be seen.
- The image attached to this article is not of my mum or her husband, and I’m only guessing the couple pictured is the same age group.
For more stories on housing:
- Housing affordability worst its been in 30 years
- House prices across the Hunter continue to rise
- Architects weigh in on housing crisis
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