By Laura Fisher, Sales Manager, Retirement Homesearch
Wellness is a combination of physical, mental and social wellbeing, and the spaces we inhabit are key. The property sector is waking up to the fact that by improving buildings to help people feel their best, we can create real benefits for the people who live there.
Retirement home developers are taking an increasingly long-term view. They are understanding how effective design and planning of spaces to promote healthy lifestyles can provide an opportunity to embed wellness into the very core of a building and the community that lives there.
As the leading retirement estate agency, we see first-hand how the home environment can impact residents’ wellbeing. Here, we look at some of the areas that we believe make a real difference to the lives of residents living in specialist retirement developments.
Servicing the Silver Surfer
Retirement developments have an increasing need to cater for the ‘silver surfer’ generation. Whilst not having WiFi available in communal lounges doesn’t affect a resident’s ability to go online in their own apartment, having access to WiFi in a communal setting is an important factor when it comes to creating communities. Being able to access online channels collectively, amongst friends, builds confidence and creates social opportunities like never before. Residents have the opportunity to share knowledge and encourage each other to move out of their comfort zone and try new things. With more and more residents wanting to get online, older developments are looking at the costs and practicalities of retro-fitting WiFi, but for any new builds, having WiFi built into the design phase is absolutely essential.
Supporting downsizing (or as we like to call it “rightsizing”)
The word downsizing comes with the connotation of someone parting with their worldly goods and drastically reducing what they are intending to move with. This is, in part, very true, but our experience tells us that most people who are downsizing find the process of parting with their possessions the most upsetting part of the whole experience. We learnt from a survey conducted by Retirement Homesearch in 2017 that having to get rid of excess belongings is one of the top barriers to downsizing. Often the storage in a retirement apartment will dictate how an individual or family tackles this, but having more storage – whether that be directly in someone’s apartment, or within a communal space, would certainly ease the upheaval for many.
Owning and driving a car provides a sense of independence and freedom that many people living in retirement developments crave. Whilst retirement developments are very well-placed to local amenities – something we know is valued greatly by our residents – many residents still want the freedom to travel further afield without restrictions. We find parking at developments to be a significant priority, particularly for those moving into a retirement development at a younger age.
People who move into retirement developments often do so in order to become more active. There’s often an social committee at developments that arrange an array of activities from coffee mornings and film clubs, to yoga and dance classes. An important part of any development managers’ role (supported by the managing agent) is to facilitate, support and engage with residents to help create tailored activities and active communities within their developments.
We’d love you to share your thoughts with us
We’d love to hear your ideas on what developers and managers of retirement developments could do to make them more attractive to older people. Please share your thoughts with us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Working with Opinium, we conducted an online study of 2,000 nationally-representative UK adults. 36% said having to get rid of excess belongings was a barrier to downsizing