Human beings are social creatures, however many people go from living a busy life to ﬁnding retirement a lonely time – which impacts on health, wellbeing and longevity.
In the UK, chronic loneliness has become such a recognised problem that a Minister for Loneliness has been appointed. In New Zealand, a University of Otago study of 72,000 older New Zealanders recently revealed that one in ﬁve older Kiwis are lonely.
“Having something to look forward to and participating in things you enjoy, that’s what life’s about. It’s those moments of shared joy and laughter.”
That resonates for Barbara Reynen-Rose with the residents she meets in her role as Chief Operations Ofﬁcer for Ryman Healthcare.
“As you get older, you often begin to lose your social network. Your mobility decreases, making you less conﬁdent to go out, the motivation and the interest in socialising often decreases too because it all gets rather hard.”
In addition, families are much more spread out and many older people don’t want to be a worry to their children, so the problem can snowball, she says. “It all compounds to feeling lonely and you experience everything more acutely because there’s no-one to talk it through with.”
However, research shows that if you keep active, socialise, eat well, keep taking any relevant medication and stay interested in life, that equals longevity.
“Having something to look forward to and participating in things you enjoy, that’s what life’s about. It’s those moments of shared joy and laughter.” Seeing that take effect when people move into a Ryman village is the most rewarding part of her work, says Barbara.
“It can take time to settle in, even up to three months as people gradually begin to understand how everything works. They try the different activities to see if they like them or not,” she says.
“They meet a few people and a bit of laughter comes back into their life.” The beauty of the villages is that nothing is mandatory, and people can participate as much or as little as they wish, says Barbara.
“But the opportunity is there and you’re with people who all have a positive buy-in to being in a retirement village. So there’s a natural camaraderie.”
Mealtimes can be the perfect opportunity for those moments shared joy, with serviced apartment residents gathering for their main meal each day to enjoy Ryman Delicious menus.
“I love it when people say to me, ‘I wish I’d done this sooner,’” says Barbara. “What that means is it’s opened up a new world for them. They’ve been isolated and lonely, often for an extended period of time, and so they can embrace living in a retirement village with great enthusiasm.”
For more information about the retirement lifestyle at one of our 31 villages throughout New Zealand visit www.rymanhealthcare.com