Your children have left the nest and are busy with children of their own. They have full-time jobs and Yoga classes three times a week. You were looking forward to retirement, but now that you’ve finally made it, your days begin to feel empty. Wasn’t this meant to be your reward for working so hard all these years?
Not everyone feels this way, but a significant proportion of us do. Research shows that the “Loneliness Epidemic” affects 1.2 million people in England alone. According to The Campaign to End Loneliness, 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends, and neighbors less than once a week, and 51% of people aged 75+ live alone.
Loneliness in older adults is becoming a big problem, not just in the UK, but worldwide. Isolation makes us less likely to eat well, exercise, and look after our health. It even makes it harder to socialize with other people, the very thing we need to do to not be lonely. It is every bit as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, studies show.
However, the picture is not as bleak as it might appear. Many older adults are living longer, happier, healthier, active lives, in full defiance of the Loneliness Epidemic. Their secret? Shared Community Living.
Maggie Khan, 82 years old, has been living in a shared home for more than 25 years. She tells The New York Times that shared housing has benefits: it brings people together, and it makes loneliness obsolete.
In Kongsberg, Norway, 23 people decided that they did not want to end up lonely and isolated in their golden years, so they made their own retirement paradise. In an interview with NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, they explain that they decided to build 13 detached houses to live in, and a large communal house in the middle.
They arrange lunches, dinners and activities in the middle house, as well as parties, and other large social gatherings. It is the main social hub at the Skyttertunet Bofelleskap in Kongsberg.
These residents in Kongsberg believe that they are delaying the aging process by several years by ensuring they socialize with others, and by encouraging each other physically and mentally. Some of them even feel that, despite getting older, they’ve never been in better shape!
At Ambera, we believe, like Maggie, and the residents of Skyttertunet Bofelleskap, that the key to living a happy life is worrying less, playing a part in other people’s lives, and doing more of what brings us joy.
As a resident in one of our communities, you’re not just a property owner- you are an active part of the community. Well equipped recreational facilities and inviting common areas, combined with social activities and interest groups, makes both solitude and socialising an active choice. And perhaps that is what retirement is all about? Having options and the ability to choose what adventures to embark on.