As a daughter my biggest regret was that I did not manage to encourage my parents to move into a Retirement Village earlier.
By the time they did make the move to Charters Village six year ago, my father was very poorly, and my mother was in her 80s. This meant that Dad only had 6 months living there before he passed away.
That said, the fact that my Mum had family locally and was living in a community, rather than alone in a large house full of memories, made this very tough time easier for her. She made friends and participated in the numerous social events on offer, from Bridge to theatre trips.
Sadly, her health has now declined, but she still attends the ‘socially distanced’ coffee mornings and has regular contact with other residents. I also have peace of mind knowing that she is in a very safe environment with someone on hand 24 hours a day, should an emergency arise.
Seeing village life first hand during ‘lockdown’
In the recent lockdown Retirement Villages shielded all of its residents. Only staff and key workers were allowed into the main buildings. As my interior design business had ground to halt, I volunteered to run errands, do food shopping and collect prescriptions for the residents at Charters Village, wearing PPE of course!
When I dropped off the shopping what struck me was how many of the residents said that they were so pleased that they were living in the Village at this challenging time. They said that they felt secure and protected from the outside world. Moreover, the management had stocked the Village shop with a vast array of foodstuffs and managed to deliver a hot cooked lunch to everyone who wanted one every day.
Advice for other families
I think older people are often reluctant to give up their own homes to move to a Village. However, the younger they are when they make the move, the more they can really benefit from all of the activities on offer and make firm friends. If I had to give one bit of advice? Don’t leave the move until you are too old to enjoy Village life to its full!