Retirement Accommodation from a Non-Financial perspective.

When thinking of retirement, accommodation is one of the more important topics. In this article, we take a look at the non-financial accommodation-related factors to take into consideration when planning your retirement. Let’s answer some questions related to your retirement home that is not about finances.

The first part of this blog series dealt with retirement planning and in the following two parts, we discuss staying active and financial factors.

Buying a house easily takes first place as the most expensive thing people do in a lifetime. What happens if you end up in a situation where you do not feel secure or don’t have access to vital services? 

It goes without saying that you want to plan your retirement thoroughly and take all the different aspects of retirement accommodation into consideration. Only then can you make an informed decision and yield the most rewarding result. Here is a list of the topics we going to discuss in this blog post.

  • When to start looking for your perfect retirement house?
  • Do you have to relocate or not?
  • The types of retirement accommodation.
  • How important is a community and being social?
  • All about security and nifty smart technologies.
Time To Retire

When to start looking for your Perfect Retirement Home?

Timing when to start planning retirement accommodation can be a tricky thing to pin down as it is different for everyone. However, sound advice is to start planning your retirement accommodation before it becomes urgent.

According to Businesswire.com, the South African population sector older than 60 years keeps on growing and accounts for more than 5.4 million residents as found in their research in 2021. The average life expectancy for South Africans has risen due to improved medical advances. Stats like these are the cause of a shortage and high demand for retirement accommodation in South Africa.

The high demand for retirement accommodation gives rise to the dreaded waiting list. In some parts of the country, waiting lists have a 60 years waiting period indicating a serious problem when it comes to retirement accommodation.

At this time not enough retirement accommodation is being built, adding to the problem. This is a big concern if you are in the market fo4 retirement accommodation and clearly should be a priority for planning your retirement.

So it is obvious that the answer to the question “When to start planning for retirement accommodation?”, will be as early as possible.

Relocation for retirement

Do you have to relocate or not?

A sensible, often considered and somewhat culturally dependent move retired people make is to relocate. Downscale your home and basically optimize your living environment for retirement. It is found in the diversity of South African cultures that some cultural groups live in tightly knit family units that thrive on multigenerational housing arrangements. Where others follow a much more independent way of living.

Multigenerational housing inherently comes with many benefits. One is the fact that loneliness and personal isolation do not exist in these communities. Grandparents spend much more time with their grandchildren teaching them valuable parts of life and at the same time upholding their mental and physical health in a safe environment. 

On the opposite side of the scale, are those people that live a much more independent lifestyle. A distinguishing element of the more independent lifestyle approach is the trend where the children leave their parent’s house once they are done with their education and start carving out their own paths. This leaves the parents alone in a big house that comes with high maintenance requirements. 

In situations like these, it is the sensible thing to downscale, and relocate. Therefore very often people approaching retirement sell their properties and liquidate their assets and even move to a more suitable town or area.

Even though relocating comes with drawbacks like the cost, discomfort and settling in time to new environments. It can also be very rewarding and highly beneficial if planned and executed properly.

So it is clear that there is no one set answer to the question of relocating when retiring. But if you decide to relocate, where do you go? This brings up the next heading in this post, what are your retirement accommodation options available in South Africa?

retirement accommodation types

The different types of Retirement Accommodation.

The options for retirement accommodation are plentiful and you can go about many different ways to live your retirement years in a non-multigenerational housing setting. Dividing the different types of retirement accommodation into two main groups and often the foremost determining factor is health. 

Health requirements often shape choices when it comes to retirement accommodation, and even if you are young and healthy, you still have to recognize that you will not stay 100% healthy forever. At some point in time, you will need some form of assistance.

That means the chances of you relocating during your retirement are high and you may live in two or three different types of retirement accommodation settings in your lifetime. Moving from one group to the next, progression flows from independent living to assisted living and in some cases may end in specialised care. Where independent and assisted living make up the two main types of retirement accommodation.

  • Independent Living
  • Assisted Living
    • Retirement Home
    • Nursing Home
    • Specialized Care Facilities

Independent Living

As the name implies, independent living is best suited for middle-aged people that are active and 100% capable of taking care of themself. This is the more popular option among people that recently retired and started scaling down or people starting semi-retirement.

Independent living accommodation is usually clustered together and can be built as flats, cottages or townhouse complexes. Security is a prominent feature that offers access control, panic buttons, guarded entrances and more.  

Places like La Gratitude provide a range of accommodation options that is suitable for independent retirement living in an ageism-free environment.

La Gratitude Cottages Outside
La Gratitude Flats Outside
La Gratitude Cottages Outside
La Gratitude Flats Outside

Assisted Living

During an interview with the CEO of La Gratitude, Jomari Batista said: “We have made it our mission to enhance the quality of life of vulnerable aged persons through education, outreach and assisted living programmes all with the assistance of our qualified team who are committed to the values of the organisation.”

Assisted living refers to different levels of care incorporated into various types of retirement accommodation settings. Assisted living in its most basic form provides the tenants or residents with basic services, that free up time and improve the quality of life in general. 

Where on the other end of the spectrum assisted living in its most extreme form includes chronic medical treatment and care services that enable day-to-day comfortable living conditions otherwise not possible.

Virtual Companion Care

Virtual companion care is a type of assisted living that is made possible with the use of technology. Virtual companion care utilises technology, like tablet computers to provide companionship to elderly people living on their own or spending long periods of time alone.

This new type of retirement care comes with pros and cons, where saving costs on home care is the primary advantage. Even though it is a type of assisted living, there is no physical assistance involved. One of the disadvantages. 

However, with virtual companion care, elderly people can get crucial mental stimulation through companionship. The tasks of virtual companions include reminders to take medication and personal conversation while constantly monitoring the elderly remotely. Virtual companion care is especially suited well for people suffering from early stages of dementia and Alzheimers.

Retirement Homes

Retirement homes can be a single facility with rooms and communal dining and recreational areas or a village-style clustered townhouse or cottage complex. These are referred to as retirement villages or retirement communities. 

Within these types of retirement accommodations, care or assistance becomes the priority. Therefore the notion of independent living diminishes as the demand for assistance become bigger.

Positives of Retirement Homes or Villages are Community living, Convenience by Amenities, Saving time on chores, Onsite support services, Security and Safety, and Independent Living Units.

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages inherent to retirement homes/villages that include, The need to Relocate, the Absence of young people, Costs and the lack of Homeownership.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, in general, provide accommodation in a single facility with living quarters and communal dining and recreational areas specifically for older people with personal health or medical care requirements.

All nursing homes have a nursing staff complement that comprises trained professional nursing teams dedicated to taking care of residents. Ideal nursing homes are either located in close proximity to hospitals or provide in-house doctors on a regular basis. 

Basic care offered by nursing homes includes laundry and cleaning, meals and medical services. Security plays a vital role and different safety and security features accompany the services offered by nursing homes.

Because nursing homes are designed for elder care, things like wheelchair accessibility, bathrooms with grab rails and emergency call buttons are standard features found in nursing homes.

Entry as a resident into nursing homes is mostly determined by each individual’s medical requirements and not only age. This brings us to the next type of nursing home, that specializes in giving care for dedicated or specific types of medical conditions, also referred to as specialised care facilities.

Specialised Care

Different specialised or focused facilities.

  • Frail Care Facilities
  • Memory Care Facilities
  • Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Palliative Care
  • Hospice Care

Often places like La Gratitude Home For The Aged, combine specialised services to provide their residents with total care packages tailored to each individual’s needs.

Socializing and Community

Socialising and Community.

It is a well-known fact that your local community and more specifically, your friends play a vital role in your life. The fact is that older people have fewer social contacts, and prefer to spend time with close friends. A more concentrated network of friends, and that is why social relationships are better later in life.

Social interactions play an important part and contribute to mental health. So it becomes important to maintain your social interactions and stay active in your community. 

Loneliness

Loneliness is the feeling of being alone no matter the number of social interactions you have. Loneliness and social isolation are serious problems that negatively affect the health of many older people. Studies found that the risks of loneliness include:

  • Increased risk of premature death from all causes.
  • Isolation is associated with about 50% increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor social interactions relate to about 29% increased risk of heart disease.
  • Social isolation relates to about a 32% increased risk of a stroke.
  • Poor social interactions increase anxiety, depression and suicide.
Loneliness Factors

Measuring the levels of loneliness in people is very difficult to quantify but studies used various factors that were rated in interviews with people of multiple ages to get statistics and draw conclusions. The four contributing factor groups are as follows.

Socio-Demographical

Sociodemographic factors contributing to loneliness comprise Income Level, Age, Partnership status, Household characteristics, and Personally perceived health status.

Mobility

A person’s mobility intensity is affected by the frequency and ability to use different transport modes and the ability to perform activities. Mobility is very important as it provides the means to have social interactions. The top factors to influence mobility intensity are driving and walking with additional factors including commuting and bicycling. 

Social Participation

Three factors make up social participation in order to describe a person’s level of social participation. These are the number of contacts for Emotional support, Instrumental support or Social interactions.

  • Emotional -> caring, esteem.
  • Instrumental -> informational, tangible.
  • Social -> talking and social visits.

Studies found that the top three locations for social participation in older people are mostly situated in their neighbourhoods and are Recreation spaces, Community amenities and shopping amenities.

Living Environment

How a persons living environment influences their level of loneliness is related to the neighbourhoods people live in. Older people are more reliant on social interactions in the specific neighbourhood that they live in than younger people. The factors that directly affect loneliness related to living conditions are connected to relationships between neighbours which plays to the perception of the neighbourhood’s physical quality.

  • The attractiveness of buildings.
  • Quiet and peacefulness.
  • Quality of parks and open spaces.
  • Lighting, paths and pavements.
  • The use of neighbourhood amenities.

Studies have shown that people who live in highly urbanised and deprived neighbourhoods are lonelier. The population density and the time lived in a neighbourhood also impact loneliness in a noticeable manner.

These facts are sourced from the National Library of Medicine

The solution to the loneliness problem.

Places like La Gratitude’s Frail Care facility, Cottages and Flats prove to be an effective solution to loneliness and social isolation. La Gratitude prioritises social interactions and is constantly providing social events and activities to help residents stay socially engaged. 

Furthermore, La Gratitude is located close to shopping amenities, they provide well-manicured open areas and recreation facilities and have hospitals and various medical facilities very close and conveniently located.

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Technology and Retirement.

Technology and Retirement.

Technology is not only improving at an exponential curve it is also disrupting many industries and lifestyles related to retirement. Retirees have more options provided by modern-day technology ranging from security to time management, than ever before. 

While baby boomers are more reluctant to use technology, companies are constantly making devices easier to use with voice control and biometrics. These advances make technology not only more appealing but truly easy to use in a helpful way for older people.

Most likely the more popular and adopted technology is “The Internet”. The internet allows senior citizens to continue their income streams by selling courses, and subscriptions to tutorial services online. 

Another option that was never available to retirees before the internet is studying. These days you can constructively spend your time getting qualifications from diplomas, certificates all the way to degrees. Online courses and how-to tutorials are a growing trend among the world’s seniors.

Technologies related to accommodation present additional security and safety features that were not previously available. Some of these features are,

  • Remote accessible and programmable switches. You no longer have to worry about forgetting the stove or lights on as it is now possible to use a mobile device to remotely switch devices on and off. This prevents kitchen fires and other damages that can happen to your home.
  • Security cameras and sensors have the ability to control access and allow for locking and unlocking of doors, allowing access to family or assistants.
  • Medical alert systems come in many shapes and sizes with a plethora of features all positively impacting your retirement life. Using these technologies can remind you to take your medicine, give diabetes information regarding blood glucose levels, heart rate monitors, fitness aids and much more.
  • Automated cleaning devices like Roomba robot vacuum cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, automated air purifiers, and microwave cleaners all take care of cleaning chores and make life easier for retirees.

An imminent technology that will greatly benefit older people are self drivings cars, this is no longer a futuristic dream but a reality that is available in many other countries at this time.

From smart mops and gutter cleaners to lawn mowers, there are many technologies available today that help older people maintain their lifestyles with ease. Any retiree should definitely look into making use of these technologies in their retirement homes.

You can make a difference


With your assistance, the volunteers at La Gratitude will be able to take better care of not only the residents at the old age home but also the greater Newcastle community. La Gratitude is constantly involved in outreach projects to help the elderly in need in and around Newcastle.

Your donations will be greatly beneficial in the provision of food and other basic necessities for the less fortunate elderly people that require assistance.

Donating is easy, click here to donate now.

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