Retirement villages offer key to happiness, study finds

Retirement villages offer key to happiness, study finds

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Tight-knit communities and a sense of belonging take the sting out of ageing for residents in retirement villages and resorts, research finds.

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They say ageing is not for the faint hearted but with a little planning, the "golden years" can also be the best time of your life.

We're not talking about financial planning. That's undoubtedly important but equally so is planning for your social life in retirement.

Researchers have found that a solid social circle is the strongest indicator of life satisfaction as we age. What's more, happiness is not just a matter of feeling good. It has multiple impacts on our physical and mental health, our relationships, and even creativity.

The 2019 Age Well Study surveyed more than 5000 seniors living in Life Plan retirement villages throughout the United States. This five-year, longitudinal study seeks to quantify the influence of retirement community social environments on their residents' quality of life.

Overall, the findings are exceedingly positive, showing that "residents tend to have greater emotional, social, physical, intellectual, and vocational wellness than their counterparts in the community at large".

They also report significantly more healthy behaviours than their peers in the general community, including more exercise, better diets and greater attention to self-care.

And a whopping 69 per cent of respondents said that moving to a retirement village had "somewhat or greatly improved" their social wellness.

Evidently, these are very happy people, so it comes as no surprise that 92 per cent of village residents replied that they were either "very satisfied" or "completely satisfied" with the place they lived.

The high levels of contentment at Life Plan retirement villages are attributed to the strong sense of belonging enjoyed by community members. While a great social life is a boon at any age, the study authors note that it plays a greater role in life satisfaction after age 55 and "appears to have a protective effect against other risk factors among older adults".

If you're looking to optimise your health and happiness in retirement, a good place to start is the Newcastle Hunter Retirement Village and Resort Expo, May 22-23 at Souths Merewether.

This free event is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the many different retirement living options available in the Hunter region and beyond. Meet with Australia's most respected retirement living operators, representing communities of every type and price point, to discover all the benefits of life in a retirement village or resort.

For those outside of the Hunter region, visit retirementexpo.com.au today to find out when the Retirement Village and Resorts Expo is coming to your area.

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