When Julie Street was weighing up where she wanted to see out her retirement, feeling safe and secure was one of her most pressing concerns.
Living alone in a four-bedroom townhouse following the loss of her husband, like many others in the same predicament the 63-year-old had begun to feel her vulnerabilities much more keenly.
“My safety had become a bit of an issue for me,” Julie says, admitting this had led to periods of panic and interrupted sleeps.
Within weeks of moving into Aveo Bella Vista in Sydney’s North West, any fears Julie may have had about living alone had vanished.
With a 24-hour in-home emergency call system, lockable buildings with communal lobbies, easy to access home maintenance assistance and additional support services available onsite, Julie’s concerns about the risk of falling undetected in her home or having her personal security compromised had all but evaporated.
“I love that feeling of security I have here. I feel quite safe and well looked after,” Julie says.
While ageing in place has become something of a buzz phrase in recent years, there are numerous examples the ways active seniors have felt unprotected while living outside the bounds of a traditional retirement village.
The research also shows seniors face a much broader range of health and social risks than other demographics when it comes to remaining in their own home as they get older.
For some, that manifests itself in feelings of isolation and loneliness, while for others concerns arise out of feeling distanced from their community, or fears their physical or mental health may be compromised as a result of living on their own.
So how can living in a retirement village offer that feeling of safety and security?
Limited points of entry
Unlike standalone houses, many retirement villages have one or two entry and exit points, with most heavily monitored.
Not only does this make it harder for anyone to enter unnoticed, it also ensures any period of resident inactivity or lengthy absences are noted.
Well maintained facilities
Because most retirement villages are purpose-built, the homes and common areas within them are designed to be easily maintained. This means that any maintenance issues are usually able to be swiftly corrected.
In addition to care, reception and auxiliary staff, some communities even have a handyman on site, meaning you can ask them to fix that uneven step or draughty window straight away while eliminating the need for you to invite unknown tradespeople through your door.
Neighbours you can trust
One of the key drawcards for Julie and for many other active seniors considering moving into such communities is that they know who their neighbours are.
With all your fellow residents forced to meet strict eligibility requirements, there is no risk of the property next door being overtaken by noisy university students, sublet to Airbnb guests or used as a motorcycle club house.
Staff on site
Having a person you can trust available on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week offers an enormous feeling of safety and security for both residents of retirement villages and their loved ones.
In addition to security staff, most retirement villages have managers there to attend to any safety or security concerns you may have.
Best of all if you enjoy travelling – whether for the weekend to visit the kids or for a more extended vacation, you will know your home is protected while you’re away and everything will be just as you left it upon your return.
Personal alarm systems
All retirement village property owners take any threat to the safety and security of their residents very seriously.
For this reason many, including Aveo, have installed easily-activated emergency response systems which are monitored 24/7 and have buttons strategically placed throughout their available properties.
Some also offer personal protection devices that can be worn on the body, ensuring that in the event of a fall or medical incident, help is never too far away.
Emergency plan preparation
While the chances of an event such as a major fire or flood or some other catastrophic incident are extremely low, many residents draw comfort from the fact that most state governments require all retirement villages to have a tailored emergency plan.
The plan, which varies between individual communities, outlines what staff, residents and visitors should do in the event their safety is at risk.
It is important to remember that no retirement village can ever guarantee the complete safety of its residents.
But it is worthwhile doing your homework to ensure your chosen provider offers that feeling of safety and security just as much as you cherish it.