Lockdown loneliness softens the notion of retired life – present home
The independent retirement plan market is seeing a surge in demand as those over 65 live in the community in search of new friendships and revitalizing their social lives. After the lockdown, the findings of UK’s leading residential real estate service provider FirstPort found that average monthly home sales in 2021 increased 15% compared to 2020, driven by pent-up demand and a change in demand for retirement homes.
Research suggests that the divide between perceptions and reality of life in retirement is breaking down as over a quarter (27%) of retirees claim the pandemic has changed the way they view life in retirement. Independent retirement homes attract over 65s who are looking for a sense of community (27%) and ways to revive their social life (23%), as four in ten (40%) admit that recent lockdowns encourage and validate their choice have moved to a retirement home. Almost half (48%) of those who want to exercise hope this will help them make new connections and friendships.
FirstPort manages 1,300 independent residential developments across the UK. For the majority, communal lounges are seen as the “hubs” of the community. The investigation was conducted to mark the reopening of communal lounges to residents in England and Wales from May 17, which were closed due to lockdowns last year.
After a year of restrictions, one in four (24%) said they felt lonely in the last 12 months and are now feeling the benefits of making contact with other people, while more than a quarter (28%) of those over 65 years of age did are confident they will move in. Developing with people of similar ages will help them make new friends. Over one in ten (11%) admit that they are bored of living alone, and half of respondents (50%) said they had only seen five or fewer members of their friends and family in the past year.
FirstPort, a member of the International Longevity Center’s partner program, spoke to the ILC’s Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Brian Beach.
Beach said, “The restrictions last year have affected all of our lives, with some of the effects affecting the elderly in particular. This research has highlighted important changes in the elderly’s perceptions of life in retirement and the impact of the pandemic on these changes. Almost a quarter (23%) of those who want to move into an old-age community did not take this into account before the lockdown.
Hopefully this shift signals greater awareness of the benefits that age communities offer in terms of improved lifestyle and social connections. My own work over the years has shown the importance of retirement to reduce isolation and loneliness, and to achieve better results in terms of health and independence.
“Modern and dedicated retirement communities are growing in popularity as more people see their value in improving later life by providing ample opportunities to promote social connections. It is great to see the lounges reopen in these developments as they provide important social contact for many after a difficult year. “
Lee Richards, Director of Market Services at FirstPort added, “This time last year, the industry was in a completely different place. The pandemic has put many people off thinking about moving, and we’ve seen exchanges decrease 64% during the initial lockdown decline compared to the same period last year. Now, however, the picture is much more positive. As restrictions wear off and people gain confidence, interest in specialized age communities with more properties in the market and more sales has increased.
“After an isolating and challenging year, we are seeing increasing interest from retirees interested in living together, and we encourage anyone interested in looking at the properties we manage to contact our specialist real estate agency, Retirement Homesearch.”
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