More than 80 per cent of Australian seniors say they feel safer living in a retirement village than in the wider community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RetireAustralia survey of 354 residents in 21 of its villages across Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia revealed that 83 per cent felt safer knowing there was always someone to look out for them.
More than 97 per cent of the survey respondents felt “safe and informed’’ and 93 per cent felt “valued and supported’’.
Despite the health risks, only 9.5 per cent ranked fear of contracting the virus as their primary concern, while 48 per cent indicated they were more worried about not being able to see family and friends.
RetireAustralia Chief Executive Officer Dr Brett Robinson said the survey affirmed the sense of safety and wellbeing that older Australians felt when living in a supportive and close-knit retirement community.
“In addition to having caring staff close at hand, being able to socialise with like-minded people can be an important advantage over feeling isolated and alone,” Dr Robinson said.
“Our communities have been extremely creative in the way that they have helped our residents maintain their friendships and continue to have fun over the past few months while adhering to social distancing guidelines,” he said.
“For further peace of mind, a range of our communities have also assisted residents with home delivery of groceries and everyday essentials including medical scripts during general lockdown periods.”
Residents have come up with an array of innovative activities to keep spirits high.
These have included everything from socially distanced dancing in the streets to window decorating competitions. Others have even started leaving anonymous, positive messages written in chalk throughout their communities for neighbours to find and brighten their day.
Almost 70 per cent of the residents surveyed said they had been able to keep busy and productive during social distancing restrictions, using the time to complete household tasks or pursue hobbies they have been putting off – including cooking and cleaning.
More than 50 per cent reported using technology to connect with loved ones and spending extra time online while 42 percent said they were following a new daily routine and 41 per cent were doing more exercise.
A total of 39 per cent of RetireAustralia residents said they hoped that people would learn from their experiences during the pandemic and become kinder and more compassionate towards one another.
Sisters Delma Marsh and Evon Hall, aged 77 and 79 respectively, live next door to each other at Wellington Manor Retirement Village on Brisbane's bayside and among those who value the safety and security of retirement village living.
While Mrs Marsh has been at Wellington Manor for six years, Mrs Hall moved in two years ago from Sydney after her husband died.
Both agree they feel safer living in a retirement community.
“I shudder to think how I would have coped being on my own in my old home during COVID lockdown,’’ said Mrs Marsh. “I think everyone here in Wellington Manor would feel the same. I value safety and security highly and if had been living alone and isolated in a big house, I would have been so depressed.
“We have still have stringent rules around social distancing here, but it has kept us all safe and I don’t think anyone would have an issue with that.’’
Mrs Hall said the value of maintaining some form of social contact could not be underestimated.
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