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Is craving for a community a symptom of COVID?

If the pandemic taught us one thing, it was how where we live can contribute to our wellbeing. The experience of living through COVID highlighted for many people that connection to a supportive community can be the key to a rich and fulfilling life.

Living alone, the loss of family, or health issues, may all contribute to social isolation, so it’s not surprising that older people find life in a retirement village can provide opportunities for connection and offer support systems that help combat the loneliness many experience.

Staying at home during lockdowns also provided an insight into living with less and for many people it was a chance to think about fast-forwarding retirement plans.

The idea of downsizing might be financially attractive, but the thought of living a ‘downsized’ life can be a daunting prospect. For those that take the plunge to unlock the value in their properties, what they discover is that far from settling for a ‘smaller’ life, entering a retirement community can be the start of living large.

Perhaps that’s why settings that provide a rich community experience are becoming increasingly attractive.

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Angela Burgess, Manager at Cumberland View Retirement Village, says she has seen a surge in enquiries for properties since COVID. ‘People often start looking at villages like ours because they don’t want the maintenance associated with a large home, but once they come here, they realise the really special thing about Cumberland View is the vibrant village community and the social connections, not to mention the glorious green open space they get to call their own’.

The 34 acres of captivating green open space is one of the truly special features of the village. Populated by towering majestic gums, native gardens, abundant veggie patches and gentle walking trails, residents wake each day to sweeping views of the Dandenong Ranges and the buzz of native birds and wildlife.

Angela said, ‘I think during COVID a lot of people realised how isolated they were in their homes and it’s made them rethink what their retirement is going to look like. I mean, they’ve worked hard for years and now they want to enjoy the next stage of life, but it’s no fun if you are lonely.

‘At Cumberland View, our residents not only have access to high-quality amenities, but they also have the benefit of being part of a close-knit community. We’ve seen some really wonderful friendships develop among the residents, in fact many of them love it so much they encourage their friends to move here as well. It really is a unique way of living,’ said Angela.

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With a packed activities calendar, glorious grounds, access to a pool, spa, general store, hairdressing, and coffee lounge, residents might be forgiven if they never left the village. For those that can be tempted out, the village bus is on hand for regular trips to local shopping centres and excursions.

Staying socially active is just one of the benefits of living at the village.  Medical professionals regularly visit, and a village nurse is on hand for day-to-day care. If care needs change over time, there is home care and an aged care home on the village grounds too.

Angela says, ‘Often if one partner needs more care, we support them to make the move to aged care and it makes the transition so much easier for the other partner if they are close by in the village. Plus, it means they don’t need to move away from the friends they’ve made and lose those important close connections’.

It is known that the simple act of connecting with people can actually increase life expectancy and so for some living in retirement communities, the social network they develop can help combat the loneliness that many older people living alone experience.

Angela says, ‘I have worked at Cumberland View for more than 20 years and the village is as much a part of me as I am of it. It’s a joy to be part of such a caring and compassionate team, and to experience the warmth of this community every day is an absolute privilege’.

The pandemic has taken a toll on mental and physical health, but it has also offered an opportunity to rethink the way we live. For retirees craving community and social connection, village living may just be the antidote that’s needed.