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Village-style retirement communities could benefit UK

A recent report has highlighted the benefits of community-style living to help combat isolation and loneliness in old age. Experts are lifting up the American model for building retirement “villages” as a way to create better living conditions for the elderly.

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Village-style retirement communities could benefit UK

A recent report has highlighted the benefits of community-style living to help combat isolation and loneliness in old age. Experts are lifting up the American model for building retirement “villages” as a way to create better living conditions for the elderly.

The study by the International Longevity Centre (ILC) has suggested that the development of specially focused retirement communities may be more beneficial than traditional group homes. The creation of “village-style” retirement communities is a largely American invention. In an attempt to determine effectiveness, the ILC surveyed residents of retirement villages on quality of life and used statistical techniques to compare the results with those living in a group home scenario.

“This striking research revealed that village living can promote greater independence and provide greater choice in planning for later life than would otherwise be available,” experts conducting the research said. “The research shows that the communal environment has the potential to reduce social isolation, particularly for residents who move from more rural or remote homes.”

In these planned communities, housing builders can provide for mobility solutions including accessible toilets and showers, as well as provisions for affordable stairlifts and other mobility aids that help boost the liveability of the community.

The study found that the average person in a retirement village experiences half the amount of loneliness compared to others. Furthermore, the people living in the village-style accommodation also reported a strong sense of control over their daily lives, nearly 10% higher than those living in the community. Control is a crucial component of quality of life measurement, the study reported.

“The research we conducted amongst those living in extra care accommodation supports the idea this type of housing can be beneficial for quality of life,” said Baroness Greengross, chief executive of ILC-UK, in an interview The Telegraph. “The communal environment of this type of housing seems to have a positive impact on loneliness, with very few respondents saying they felt a high degree of loneliness or isolation. New and innovative models for providing social care are crucial to address rising costs for care in an ageing society.”

According to the ILC, the UK will find it increasingly difficult to support the ageing population without changing its handling of mobility, care and support. Projections for the next 20 years, the ILC theorises, says the number of people aged 85 and over will be almost two and a half times larger in 2035 than it was in 2010.

Image Credit: Connie Ma (flickr.com)

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