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Retirement Villages May Make Aging More Enjoyable

This is an alternative lifestyle that many elderly people find attractive.

Key points

  • People are happier and more satisfied when they have a greater sense of community belonging.
  • Retirement villages provide an alternative to living alone or with relatives as you age.
  • Living in these communities allows people to pursue lifelong interests and explore new ones.

Why are some of us happier than others? Well, of course, some people have more reasons to be happy than others. Many people find that the vicissitudes of aging diminish their happiness. Nonetheless, it is a fact that some people are by their nature more likely to be happy under the same conditions that are faced by others.

Personality traits and social environments that affect happiness have been identified. The 2020 Age Well Study findings (released January 2021) specifically focus on the happiness and life satisfaction of residents in Life Plan Communities, and reinforce the effects of happiness on multiple areas of health, underlining the importance of strengthening optimism, resilience, and feelings of community.

Retirement communities such as this have proliferated in recent years. They offer new alternatives for the elderly to experience their later years, as opposed to living alone or in the homes of relatives, such as their children. This kind of community living can contribute to greater happiness as we age.

The Age Well Study examined survey responses from more than 4,100 residents in 122 Life Plan Communities across the United States. Life Plan Communities are age-restricted, amenity-rich retirement village communities that invite people to live on their own terms, enjoying a host of amenities, services, and opportunities, as well as the added benefit of access to on-site health care services.

These results are from the five-year Age Well Study being conducted by Mather Institute and Northwestern University.

Mather Life Plan Community / Used With Permission
Source: Mather Life Plan Community / Used With Permission

Results of the study reveal the following:

  • Residents’ average happiness and life satisfaction scores are near the top of the range. Approximately 92 percent of respondents were highly satisfied with where they live.
  • People are happier and more satisfied when they have a greater sense of community belonging.
  • The personality traits of extraversion, openness to new experiences, and agreeableness were both associated with greater happiness and life satisfaction.

A Local Example of Aging Well

In one typical community in Tucson, Arizona, people over age 55 enjoy a host of services, programs, and amenities, including:

  • A variety of homes, including terrace and villa homes with one, two, and three bedrooms, some with dens
  • A fitness center and day spa including indoor and outdoor saline swimming pools
  • Inspiring social and cultural opportunities such as featured lecturers, live music, and resident-led interest groups
  • A full-service lifestyle with various culinary package options, housekeeping, and concierge services

One finding from the Age Well Study was that people who are satisfied with their daily life and leisure activities report higher levels of happiness. Living in a community like this makes it easy to pursue lifelong interests and explore new ones.

During the pandemic, many programs have been offered virtually, making use of in-house television channels. Among these are fitness classes that can be done at home, lectures, entertainment, and a variety of high-level classes led by experts on topics from astrophysics to Impressionism, billiards to brain health.

Retirement villages have been around for years, but their popularity may be growing. This is an alternative lifestyle that many elderly are finding to be attractive.

Disclaimer: The author has no vested interest in any retirement village.