What comes to mind when you think about growing old? In Singapore, it may generate images of nursing homes – aged care facilities dedicated to supporting seniors who are unable to live independently and require daily personal assistance. These establishments enable seniors to embrace a new chapter of their lives, with the reassurance of support should they need it.
However, a growing active ageing movement is leading to a rise in community living concepts for seniors globally. Known as retirement villages, these residential, multi-unit complexes are designed to support independent living as well as offer differing levels of care with medical, health, leisure and support services. Some noteworthy villages even feature designer architecture, while others are developed to be self-contained communities or resorts. For a quick peek at how your retirement could look like, here are 5 remarkable retirement villages around the world.
Jikka, Japan | Credit: Takumi Ota
Hidden away in a leafy hilltop 185km from Tokyo is a cluster of huts that look like tepees. Known as Jikka (or ‘parents’ home’), the huts are a private retirement home built by architect Issei Suma for his social worker mother and her friend. The development includes a variety of features that takes ageing into account, including a stair-free flat layout, wide entryways, and a spiral pool that is wheelchair friendly. In the future, the ladies – who are in their 60s – hope to open their home to the community and turn it into a residence where the elderly can be cared for.
Alandale, New Zealand | Credit: Alandale Lifecare Ltd
Ever dreamed of living in a small town with white picket fences, green fields, lush forests and a lake? Alandale Lifestyle Village might just tick all the boxes on your wish list. Located on the banks of the Waikato River, the village is akin to a luxury resort development – with its own heated swimming pool, games room, movie theatre, croquet lawn, library, hair salon and bar. Residents can purchase stand-alone villas or serviced apartments and request differing levels of care (from independent to assisted living to respite care) depending on their needs. They can also opt for and make use of all services and activities such as meal deliveries, nursing care, podiatrist visits, exercise classes, book clubs and movie nights.
GreenAcres Retirement Village, Malaysia | Credit: GreenAcres Retirement Village
Set amid the gently rolling hills of Kinta Valley in Ipoh, GreenAcres Retirement Village is a gated community of single-storey villas designed for senior living. The leased one- or two-bedroom units are all designed with senior-friendly features such as wide doors, intuitively-located light switches, and an emergency call system. Residents can also take part in an array of fitness, social and recreational activities at a central Clubhouse. A care facility and serviced apartments with higher levels of care are also in the pipeline to cater to the residents’ changing needs.
De Hogeweyk, Netherlands | Credit: Hogeweyk dementia village
Dementia can be a challenging condition to manage but, the convenient choice of homebound nursing care may not be the most effective method of care. In the Netherlands, a self-contained ‘dementia village’ houses 152 residents within 23 houses in a development that includes streets, shops, a park, a restaurant, bar and theatre. The village adopts a distinctly different approach – where residents are given full autonomy to live their lives, manage their own chores, do their own shopping and plan their recreational activities, all under the care of nursing staff. The idea is to offer autonomy, dignity and as much privacy as possible to those with dementia. The results are striking: residents are more active and require less medication than most homebound dementia patients.
St Bernadette Lifestyle Village, Singapore | Credit: St Bernadette Lifestyle Village
The first eldercare residence of its kind in Singapore, St Bernadette Lifestyle Village – located right next to Good Shepherd Loft nursing home – offers a model of group living similar to residences found in some European countries. Seniors live in their own private wheelchair-accessible en suite rooms and share a living room, dining and kitchenette. They also have the choice to live on their own – but with a 24-hour medical concierge available to attend to any medical need. The village caters to more able-bodied seniors but also offers an ideal balance between independent living and easy access to medical care and supervision.