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Retirement comes early for those with means

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Modern retirement developments have to cater for both traditional retires and those who are still active and working.
Hastened by the pandemic, more South Africans are taking early retirement or voluntary retrenchment packages – even as early as the age of 55.
For those with enough money for retirement it is a “life-is-short” attitude. This is a trend also being seen in America with a November study from Pew Research Center finding a surge in the number of baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964, reporting being retired. Compared to previous years, there were 1.2 million more than the historical annual average.

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While for many middle-class South Africans this is an option they cannot afford, forcing them to work way past typical retirement age, retirement developments have had to be reimagined to cater for those who can, as well as those who choose to continue working.
The coronavirus pandemic also gave rise to the popularity of active-adult communities because people could feel safe within the bubble of their neighbourhoods, where they know everyone without any transient population.
In fact, if the coronavirus pandemic has taught retirement property developers and managers anything, it is that health and safety, lifestyle and financial peace of mind are top priorities, says Cobus Bedeker, managing director of Evergreen Property Investments. The last thing that retirees want to do during their golden years is deal with daily cooking and cleaning.
“Upmarket villages…now take care of gardening, catering, laundry, and housekeeping, and you can choose to eat in a dining room or restaurant, rather than catering for yourself. Some estates also provide additional facilities like retail shops, beauty and hair salons, and financial services, so you never have to leave the property if you choose not to.”
Rob Jones, retirement-living consultant to The Somerset Lifestyle and Retirement Village in the Western Cape says the days of regimented, institutional frail care units, run in a hospital-like fashion are gone.
“The modern crop of retirees – many of whom are still very active and who often do not self-identify as ‘old’, have necessitated.”
To cater for these evolutions and ensure that elderly residents still receive the care they need, Barry Kaganson, chief executive of Auria Senior Living, says the “big trend” both here and overseas for the offering of various wellness aspects within senior living facilities. These include fitness programs, healthy eating plans and options, planned social activities, lifelong learning courses, volunteer opportunities and wellness education workshops.
“In addition, of course from a design perspective, senior living communities are now attractive, modern and appealing places to live, underpinned by the requisite operational and hospitality services.
“Availability of care and support is critical as people live longer, and aspects such as dementia care need to be addressed…People also want choice as to how their care and support is delivered.”
Phil Barker, a consultant to Renishaw Property Developments, believes the home-based care model is the future of health care in mature lifestyle villages.
“Current retirees are demanding this and successful developments will undoubtedly deliver.”
This model means units will be:
• Wheel chair-friendly
• Designed to facilitate ageing in the home rather than being consigned to a ‘frail-care facility’
• Managed by professional health care organisations and manned by qualified nursing and supervised care-giving personnel.
Apart from physical changes, retirement developments have also had to restructure their offerings.
“Being creative in encouraging the residents to participate in organised and individual activities is one such change. Of course, these activities are always governed by strict Covid-19 heath protocols, in order to lessen risk.”
Community and friendship are also vital aspects for retirees, and Helen and Corrie Peters who live in the Widenham Retirement Village, also in KZN, say they now meet and talk to more people in one week than they did in three months in their previous complex.
“It is just so much better than I expected,” Helen says.
The sense of community that is a big feature in most modern retirement villages is evident in even small details, such as village newspapers and magazines where local and personal news is shared between residents.
Increasing numbers of people and volume of traffic in Ballito on the north coast of KZN forced Joan and Hugh Gaitskell to consider alternate retirement living.
                                        Joan and Hugh Gaitskell. Picture: Supplied
And in November 2019, they made the move to the Scottburgh on the KZN mid-south coast.
Discussions with friends and property viewings saw the couple choose Renishaw Hills to live out their golden years – and it is a decision they have not regretted.
“The things that were influential to our decision were the views – those of the sea as well as the village, and the impossibility of any other dwelling being built in front of us to spoil the views we had selected,” says Joan, 72.
Nothing else was as important to them at the time.
Hugh, 78, adds: “Our favourite parts of living here include the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood and also our fellow residents who have the same outlook on life as we do.”
The couple’s average day involves taking part in sport and social gatherings – and there is no pressure to do anything else that does not appeal to them.
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