Isolation, ill-health, loneliness and the endless chores and maintenance associated with a larger home and garden are all factors that encourage people to downsize to a retirement community like Thornton Park.
So significant is the relief and joy that comes from moving to a spacious and well-equipped new apartment within a community of like- minded people, that the only regret some Thornton Park residents’ have is that they didn’t make the move earlier.
And, that was even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought all these concerns into sharp focus.
The importance of care and community cannot be overstated in a time that has seen ‘iso’ crowned as ‘word of the year’ by The Australian National Dictionary Centre.
Even in the best of times, ageing can bring a sense of isolation, and the pandemic has reinforced how important it is to have company and support nearby.
For Marilyn, moving to Thornton Park, a contemporary retirement village in Penrith, was just the tonic needed after her marriage ended.
“I recently separated from my husband so was living by myself,” she says. I was so bored at home because there was no one around.”
In her new home, Marilyn is enjoying meeting new people as well as proudly introducing family and friends to her apartment.
“My grandchildren have been to visit and they say ‘Oh, Nan, your apartment is so lovely’,” she says. I’ve had a couple of friends over for dinner and they been impressed too. It’s a beautiful place.”
Declining health is another concern for many older Australians, like Sylvia.
“With my husband’s eye problems and my arthritis, we decided it was time to move somewhere we’d have support if we needed it,” she says.
While these health concerns are not stopping Sylvia and Neville from living life to the full, the location of Thornton Park makes it even easier for them to get to where they need to be.
“I work one day a week and we’re very involved with a group from our church,” explains Sylvia.
“Thornton Park’s location is perfect - it’s an easy walk to the train station and everything we need.”
Lorraine and Rob are enjoying good health but are finding great reassurance in knowing that, in addition to a 48-unit retirement village, Thornton Park offers a state-of-the-art residential care home.
In fact, they’d never considered retirement living before visiting a friend at Thornton Park and, on seeing the bright spacious apartments, were instantly hooked.
“It really puts my mind at ease knowing that, if Rob or I got sick or our circumstances changed, there’s an aged care facility about two seconds away, and it’s brand new and lovely,” says Lorraine.
She hopes to avoid the situation her mother found herself in when needing extra care. Lorraine feels that move was made more difficult because the only options were some distance away.
Anne and Don were in the situation where their health-related needs were different, with Anne being healthy but was concerned about Don, who has Parkinson’s. Initially she felt she moved only for Don’s needs but that soon changed.
“My friends say ‘Anne, you seem so happy now,’ and I say ‘Well, I did it for Don’s sake but I love it too’,” she says.
Both Anne and Don found a huge sense of relief in no longer having to manage their family home and garden.
“When you’ve lived in one place for 49 years, it’s not easy to think about moving,” says Anne. "But our house and garden needed to work and it was all becoming too hard to manage.”
The couple can now focus on enjoying life. “It’s a great feeling to wake up each morning and get out and live,” says Anne. “Everything in our apartment is lovely, new and so easy to use.”
Speaking of gardens, the COVID-19 pandemic has also shown how important a connection with nature can be.
In Australia, we were lucky never to reach the level of countries like Spain where people were locked down within apartments, not even able to step outside.
Being able to go for a walk and look out onto nature is now seen across the world as a precious gift that can’t be taken from granted. Thornton Park is surrounded by eucalypts and jacaranda and is within an easy drive of the Blue Mountains.
“Some days we sit on our balcony and look out over the jacaranda trees,” says Anne. “It’s so beautiful.”
Overall, Anne could not be happier with her move.
“It’s one of the best decisions we could have made,” she says. Marilyn agrees. “It’s so nice not having to worry about anything from day to day,” she says. “It’s the lifestyle I’m here for and it’s wonderful.”
So, no matter whether your health is tip top or declining, whether you are fully active or ready to take it easy, retirement living might be ideal for you.
Sylvia encourages others not to delay.
“It’s important not to leave it too late,” she says. “The younger you are, the more time you have to enjoy everything Thornton Park has to offer.”
What to find out more? Click here to book your tour of Thornton Park