Everyone needs good neighbours – especially as you get older

Blog posted

30th November 2012

I read the recent findings of the Age UK survey on neighbourliness with astonishment.
It’s difficult to comprehend that seven per cent of the older people polled (equivalent to 721,000 individuals) said they did not know their neighbours.
Reasons given by the over 65s interviewed for not getting to know those living close by was that younger neighbours ‘always seem to be so busy’ or the fact the older generation say they don’t want to be a burden to them.
But it’s not about being a burden, it’s about looking out for each other, being socially responsible and wanting to be there for a neighbour, especially if they happen to be elderly and potentially more in need of some form of support.
It is this philosophy on which retirement village communities are built and thrive. Before you point out that residents in our villages are all one generation and so are bound to converse and engage together, remember our retirement village entry age is 55 and 60.
In many villages with a diverse age range, we do have two generations living harmoniously together – and a great spirit of neighbourliness is at the key of village life.
It’s all about looking out for each other, sharing the good times and the not so good. That doesn’t mean living in each other’s pockets, it means a level of watchful care and respect from a distance. A taste of our village life at Thamesfield shows how neighbours come together and all benefit as a result.
It is very sad when you hear older people say that the television is their main form of company. And this is likely to be the case even more as we head into the winter months.
While we respect residents’ privacy, no-one will feel alone in a retirement village; loneliness is not a part of retirement community living – and while you won’t find it in one of our villages, neither should it be part of the wider community. None of us should allow this to happen.
That’s why we want to endorse Age UK’s Spread the Warmth challenge:
Every elderly person, no matter where they live, should never feel alone. We all have a duty and a responsibility to ensure this never happens.
Sarah Burgess