Is the garden small enough to maintain without paying for expensive gardeners? Is it a short and level walk to the local shops and medical practice?
When we think about getting older and our likely accommodation, our thoughts might turn to sheltered accommodation or even residential care homes. For a growing number of people, these are the reality, as the rise of dementia and other age-related diseases require more intensive support in later life. But there’s another option that we should know about as financial planners, so we can discuss it with our clients who are living in retirement.
Earlier this week I attended a lunch meeting at a retirement village. It was, in fact, the first retirement village in England. Located right here in Cranleigh, Elmbridge Village was built in 1981 after one of the company founders returned from America having seen age-exclusive retirement communities working successfully there.
The village offers independent, age-exclusive living in a range of apartments and bungalows. Residents in the retirement village enjoy communal facilities including a central clubhouse with restaurant, bar, lounge, meeting room and shop.
It’s a truly lovely place to spend time, even for someone with a good 30 years to go before reaching a suitable age to live there. And the food was excellent; a carvery lunch on a workday is the future, you heard it here first.
What I found particularly interesting, chatting to the village manager and some of the residents, is how perceptions about living in a retirement village often prevent people from moving there early enough in life. Rather than being a place for ‘coffin dodgers’ and ‘old fogeys’, it’s a place for active people from the early stages of retirement onwards, who live independently, or can at least live without the intensity of nursing care better delivered in a nursing home.
Residents at the retirement village coordinate their own range of activities and clubs, with fitness classes including Tai Chi, Zumba and Pilates, debating societies and current affairs groups, sports competitions, film nights and theatre trips, guest speakers, photography and gardening clubs, pamper days, fashion shows, quiz nights and am dram productions. There’s no risk of boredom.
As the population ages, it’s important as Financial Planners we help our clients realise the full range of options on offer, especially when it comes to retirement living. It’s sometimes said that 60 is the new 40; we’re living longer lives but often healthier and more active lives, with medical interventions keeping us ‘young’ for longer.
If you’re working with retired clients, I would heartily recommend visiting a local retirement village or two. Apart from an opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch, it’s a great opportunity to chat to people who made the decision to live in such a community, and learn from their experiences as you educate your own clients about their choices and options.
Martin Bamford FPFS Chartered Financial Planner SOLLA Accredited Later Life Adviser
Managing Director, Informed Choice