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In July, our wonderful Hertfordshire based Castle Village starred in Channel 4’s award-winning current affairs programme, Dispatches.

Titled: ‘Pensions and the Price of Growing Old‘, the half an hour episode with journalist and newsreader Michael Buerk, explored the concerning problem of loneliness and vulnerability within the elderly population. Retirement Villages were positioned as a solution and it has to be said, our Castle Village looked glorious in the sunshine. The croquet lawn looked immaculate and our award wining Japanese Garden was stunning – we were very excited and proud to see one of our villages on the big screen!

Hats off to the Dispatches production team too, the programme displayed the true vibrant, sociable and happy environment the village offers residents.

On the day of filming back in June, I remember the arrival of the TV crew causing much excitement across Castle Village. Our residents: Hilary McNair; George and Peggy Dent; Norman Goodfellow; Margaret Simmonds; Donald Eke; Ken Walker; Ruth McCreery; Vera Holland and Margaret Williams were wonderful hosts. They took part in a game of croquet with Michael Buerk, followed by a spot of lunch on the sunny terrace. It was a great day.

Hilary McNair, Chair of the Residents Association, said: “Michael seemed genuinely impressed with both the concept of the retirement environment, and the way in which the principles of active, independent living had been applied. I had the distinct impression that he would have gladly applied for residency! I hope he was convinced that we were not a population of the so-called ‘idle rich’, but a vibrant, sensitive, and caring community.”

What do the stats say…

Currently, there are 10 million people in UK over the age of 65. As statistics show, the number is predicted to nearly double to 19 million by 2050. Michael Buerk looked at various options people have when planning their retirement. This is where our Castle Village was used as a shining example of an independent way of living – where residents create a vibrant community and participate in various sports, social events and other kinds of activities. Some of our residents have said their social life is better now than it was during their younger years!

Although Dispatches was very positive about Retirement Villages’ model, the programme was somewhat hard hitting. It brought to light that this isn’t the case for many older people, who are left lonely and isolated – causing a serious effect on health.

The programme showed how elderly people can feel lonely and cut off from society, especially those over the age of 75. This is backed by The NHS’ ‘Loneliness in older people’ pageshowing that in England, 51% of all people over 75 live alone and 5 million older people say the television is their main form of company.

The NHS page explains how people can become socially isolated for many reasons, such as: getting weaker; no longer being the hub of their family; leaving the workplace; disability or illness, and the deaths of spouses and friends. As a result of this, it can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and well-being.

The NHS advises getting involved in community activities, similar to the events, activities and social clubs on offer across our villages, which significantly help to maintain happiness and independence. Additionally, the Silver Line helpline (Freephone 0800 328 8888) enables you to discover what’s going on in the communities surrounding you.


Being lonely could be as bad for your health as smoking….

This week I also read a BBC News article, which suggested that being lonely could be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to the charity The Campaign to End Loneliness. BBC Reporter Jim Reed met with 90-year-old Maud in London and heard how she suffered, after the death of her companion. It’s very sad to think about the older generation feeling lonely and that’s why I’m very passionate about the retirement village notion. There are many residents throughout our villages who have lost a spouse and since moving to a retirement village, they have gained new friends, companions and support from likeminded people and the communities our villages offer.

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