– One resident of 32 years shares what they love about retirement living –

In Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May)[i] My Future Living, the leading retirement brand is highlighting the benefits of living in a retirement community as a way for older people to improve their mental wellbeing, especially those that live alone.

Dominic Stead, Property Director at My Future Living, said: “Living as part of a community of similar aged people where there are opportunities to socialise can be a really boost for people’s mental wellbeing. Retirement developments are designed for independent living, but with communal areas which people can choose to use or not.

“Most of our developments organise activities and events, such as fish and chip suppers and bingo nights, and the lounge and gardens are available daily for people to simply sit and enjoy a coffee with someone.  With loneliness a growing problem in the UK especially for older people, being part of a friendly community can be really beneficial in later life.”

The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years[ii].

The charity, Mind[iii] says that feeling lonely can have a negative impact on mental health, increasing the risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

Margaret James aged 78 years loves her one-bedroom property at Charles Dickens Court retirement development in Portsmouth which she rents through My Future Living so much that she has lived there for 32 years and has no plans of ever moving.

Originally from Glasgow, Margaret has lived most of her life in Portsmouth after meeting her first husband, a marine and then going on to marry her second husband, Mervin, an antiques dealer.

She moved into Charles Dickens Court at the age of 46yrs but as her husband was 60yrs they qualified as being able to live in the retirement development together. After becoming widowed, she decided to stay on as she felt safe and secure.

She comments: “After Mervin died in 2005, I knew I was never going to leave Charles Dickens Court as it offers me everything. It is a safe building with only 25 flats, its central location means I can walk or bus to my local shops, especially all the good charity and antique shops and there is a real community that lives here. Also, with the 24-hour emergency system there is constant peace of mind that help is there at any time.”

After living in the same building for such a long time Margaret has had lots of different neighbours over the years, but the feeling of community has always felt the same. “We have a lovely outdoor communal area in the gardens where the residents meet up in the warmer months for drinks and chats. It’s a really friendly and supportive environment.”

Even though there is an in-house gardener who tends to the lawn, Margaret has taken ownership of tending to the communal seating areas for the residents and keeping it colourful with pots and plants. “I love to garden and even though there is no responsibility to maintain the gardens, I really enjoy taking care of the area where the residents all congregate.”

One of the many benefits of renting is having an assured tenancy which means Margaret has protection from eviction and can stay for as long as she wishes.

Margaret concludes: “I won’t move from Charles Dickens Court. It’s my home and always will be.”

To find out more about renting a home in a retirement development visit: www.myfutureliving.co.uk

[i] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/mental-health-awareness-week

[ii] https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/facts-and-statistics/

[iii] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/about-loneliness/#:~:text=Feeling%20lonely%20can%20also%20have,sleep%20problems%20and%20increased%20stress.