Today’s’ retirees are revolutionising “life after 60” by having such high expectations of their golden years that modern developments need to include all the bells and whistles to meet them.
From 5G networks and smart devices to gourmet dining and prime locations, retirement villages globally are offering luxury living of the highest standards – for those who can afford it.
In South Africa, modern developments are starting to follow suit. New generation retirement estates and villages are “all about the lifestyle”, says Rabie director Miguel Rodrigues.
“Developers of these retirement estates aim to create campus-style living, which usually includes a clubhouse; restaurant or dining room; multi-purpose rooms and a library, as well as various outdoor activities.” He says most estates offer swimming pools and gyms and some include bowling lawns and even chapels.
“The trend is towards ‘resort style living, as has become popular in the US, but just on a smaller scale.” In terms of style, the properties, homes and apartments are “as modern as anything on the market”.
“The term ‘old-age home’ has all but disappeared and young-at-heart seniors want to continue enjoying their independence while benefiting from a hospitality-based estate that offers a host of amenities and services, as well as security.
“Regardless of age, retirees have modern tastes, enjoy the finer things in life and want to do so within a like-minded community,” Rodrigues says. All of this is in addition to quality health care and individualised health plans, and activities that encourage socialising and mental well-being.
The world’s best luxury retirement communities offer 24-hour, on-site medical staff, dieticians who work closely with chefs, and mental health professionals who provide care and plan activities. Some even have personal trainers and kinesiologists on the staff.
The Covid-19 pandemic has placed even more emphasis on the importance of the overall well-being of retirees. Gus van der Spek, owner of life rights company Manor Life and developer of Wytham Estate, says the elderly have not only been battling the physical health effects of the virus but also the toll it has taken on their mental health, as a result of Covid-imposed isolation.
“Many elderly people across South Africa live alone and had already been struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness before the pandemic began. With the very real threat of Covid-19, these issues only worsened.”
For those living in retirement communities, however, the impact was less severe as they were able to interact with their friends and staff members. “Those who had opted to live in retirement lifestyle villages and estates were able to isolate in their own units, with plenty of space to themselves, while still interacting outdoors, safely ‘masked-up’, with other residents and staff when necessary,” Van der Spek says.
In addition to activities, modern conveniences, socialising, health care and security, retirement villages are focusing on architecture and landscaped gardens, so residents can be surrounded by luxury aesthetics. As one’s environment has a powerful impact on mood, health, and overall happiness, retirement communities feature more natural sunlight, open layouts and green spaces for residents to enjoy.
Bells and whistles
Global trends in retirement property reveal that modern villages and estates are meeting the needs of today’s retirees with the following offerings:
Deeper focus on well-being: In addition to physical and mental health care activities, and diet, retirees are interested in educational offerings for lifelong learning as well as activities that link them with young people.
Technology: Fast wi-fi is a non-negotiable as more and more residents rely on smart devices and apps to monitor their health, such as integrated wearables that track vitals, and help plan their lives, such as scheduling of activities and menu planning.
Pet-friendly spaces: Not only must new developments allow pets but they must offer off-leash dog areas, walking trails and social pet activities.
Luxury dining: Cafe-style restaurants and bistros are increasingly replacing cafeteria-style cuisine and offering sophisticated and healthy meals and snacks.
Bucket lists: Some communities help residents achieve their lifelong dreams by incorporating national and international travel opportunities throughout the year.
Hobbies: Modern villages cater to residents’ personal pleasures by offering on-site libraries, art centres and music lessons