Updated 13 December 2013

Sense of community key to a meaningful and fulfilling retirement

It is that time of the year when we celebrate friends, family and loved-ones.

Those special individuals who care for, laugh with, and support us; who share in our joys and sorrows and give our lives meaning and purpose.

When we retire, our friends and family become more important than ever. The support and encouragement of a network of family and friends can improve the quality of our new life in retirement and also provide us with tremendous enjoyment and support .

What’s more, combating potential lonelienss as we age, and particularly during the festive season, can be achieved through the relationships we maintain with friends and acquaintances. Additional support can put things back into perspective when they momentarily go awry and a supportive community can offer the kind of safety-net that gives you the confidence to move forward and create more enjoyment in your life.

Arthur Case, General Manager of Amdec’s Evergreen Lifestyles that owns and operates lifestyle retirement villages around South Africa, understands the importance of community, particularly when it comes to addressing issues of loneliness that some of us sometimes feel amidst all the hustle and bustle of the festive season.

He says: “A community environment is the ideal place to discover and interact with others, particularly as we age. Whether your ideal retirement will include golf, hiking, tennis or sharing a glass of wine together at the end of the day, it can be rewarding to live near other people who share the same interests. Involvement with others helps to fill our calendar with meaningful and exciting events to look forward to.”

“When you purchase an Evergreen home or apartment, you become part of a community that is big enough but not too big, and although there is plenty of privacy for those who want it, being part of ‘the Evergreen family’ offers fantastic benefits. These include a fully supportive infrastructure, hobbies, special interest groups, clubs and get-togethers. At Evergreen, being part of a community full of laughter and friendship is one of life’s many pleasures,” he explains.

A study has found that those surrounded by friends are 50% less likely to decease early than those with no social life. Socially-connected people live an average of 3.7 years longer than those who aren’t.  Arthur Case’s advice is as follows:  “Don’t leave the move to a retirement lifestyle community until it is too late. This move could be beneficial in so very many ways. Often people wait too long until there is really no alternative left except leaving their home and moving to a place that provides required care. It’s understandable that many people are overwhelmed just by the thought of moving out of their home and therefore delay it. However, in delaying this important transition, they then later often lack the skills to plan such an event and the move can then also become a problem for their children. There is seldom a satisfactory outcome when new living arrangements become a requirement instead of a choice.”

“Even if there were no other personal benefits, economic benefits, and benefits to society in general, the human need for belonging to a community would warrant at least pursuing community living as a possibility. You’ll find there’s never a dull moment in any Evergreen village. With a warm and welcoming community, residents take delight in the many activities that give them opportunity to enjoy each other’s company,” concludes Arthur.

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