I thought when I became a parent that I would finally feel like an adult, a proper grown up. But I often don’t, which is crazy really as of course I am a proper grown up. I’m married with 2 children! But there are times when I still feel like I’m finding my way in life and I guess I thought that when you become a grown up, you have life all sorted. But maybe actually you never really do…
Maybe we are all just finding our way in life, but it’s not something that we ever really talk about and we just assume everyone else has life all sorted. Because of this I don’t really think about my parents getting older, or maybe if I’m honest I prefer to bury my head in the sand. As I just want to see them as the young, fit and healthy parents they were when I was growing up. I don’t want to have to imagine a life with them not in it and for that reason, I put to one side the fact they are getting older, their health isn’t what it was and maybe I need to open my eyes a bit more to it.
My Mum turns 70 in a couple of weeks and my Dad is already in his 70’s. At the moment they are both able to drive, look after their house and garden and live their life without any help. Last week Mum and I were invited to visit a retirement living development that Pegasus Life have recently built in Sandbanks.
Pegasus Life was established in 2012, as they realised that the current retirement housing solutions no longer met the requirements of the new generation of people retiring. When people think about getting older, its their health that they think about. But we need to talk more about the mental health and the loneliness that they can experience. Pegasus Life want to bridge this gap.
On our way to visit Woodlands, in Sandbanks, Mum and I talked about their plans for the future. Mum said that whilst they are able to currently live in their home and maintain it, it is getting harder. In particular the gardening, which they both do, but it takes them a lot longer to get it all done. Plus, as any home owner will know, there is always something that needs doing around the home and as you get older, that can get harder to keep up.
Mum said that as they approach 80 years old, they will need to start thinking about moving somewhere without a garden and low maintenance. I think we both have my Nan in the back of our minds when we think about this. My nan struggled to stay in her home and probably should’ve moved a lot earlier than she did.
I’m quite a practical person and I think that when I retire, I would want somewhere to live, that was comfortable, not too big and its easy to get to the shops. I can’t see me being sentimental about staying in the house I was living in, but maybe that’s because I have moved a lot in my adult life!
When we arrived at Woodlands in Sandbanks, we had an open mind about what the retirement living would be like and we were keen to see what it would offer.
We were warmly greeted by Julie, who is one of the hosts at Woodlands. There are 2 hosts at Woodlands and one of them is on site 7 days a week, between 9-1pm. Julie described her job, as a bit like a concierge. They are there to support the residents when they need it, without being intrusive.
We arrived at coffee time, which Julie explained, she always has a coffee at 10.30am, as I guess a lot of people do at work. She lets the residents know when they move in that if they ever want to pop down for a coffee with her, they are more than welcome. There is a small communal kitchen, dining area, with a coffee machine and Julie always has cakes and biscuits too. She said some days no one comes, other days 1 person might come and sometimes 3 or 4 people will come. Sometimes she joins them, but she said if there is quite a few of them she tends to leave them to it, as its a chance for them to get to know each other.
On the day we visited there were 4 residents that joined us and they were keen to hear what my job was all about. Just as much as I was keen to hear about their experiences with living here. There was one lady who lived on her own and she was the first person to move into the Woodlands development, there was a married couple and a gentleman on his own. They had all moved here for similar reasons. Their homes were too big to manage and they wanted to downsize. Woodlands gave them the ability to do this, whilst having the support on hand if they need it. There is a caretaker that will do all the jobs for them, you won’t find an elderly person up a ladder changing a light bulb.
At Woodlands there is no restaurant or in house care. You are completely independent and if you require any care support then of course you can arrange this, and people can come in.
Julie and Dawn, do arrange activités for the residents if they want them. They have quiz nights, a takeaway night and with Christmas coming there is a wreath making session. Julie explained there is no pressure to join in, some people like to do most activities, some residents never join in and other dip in and out. She said its completely up to them and we are happy to arrange anything that they are interested in.
As we said goodbye to the residents for Julie to show us around. I was left with the words of one of the gentleman’s in my head, he described living here as stress free. Which is what I would think anybody would love to have in their life!
Julie then gave us tour of the place, there is a lovely seating area looking out the garden, where residents can sit.
The garden is maintained by Pegasus Life, but if a resident wanted to look after an area or anything they are more than welcome to. If it was someones passion, they wouldn’t want to stop them enjoying it. They have a couple who look after one of the flower beds and Julie said what is good, is when they are away they know their flowers are being watered and cared for.
The garden is to one side of the property and Julie said that in the summer it gets a nice lot of shade, which is what the residents like.
We were shown the show room apartment which was fully furnished. All the apartments are slightly different in layout, but they all have 2 bedrooms and an open plan living style.
The bedrooms were a good size and the master had an ensuite bathroom.
With all the apartments what I was pleased to see, was the amount of storage space. Each apartment has a large hall entrance and lots of cupboards. Julie said that a lot of people had made the entrance area, into a small study as it is a good use of the space.
The second bedroom was equally as big and spacious.
As I was looking around the apartments I was thinking how well laid out they are and that you could still enjoy the pleasure of having your family come and stay. If my parents lived here, we could easily come and stay for the weekend with them and not feel overcrowded.
There is also an alternative for guests. As they have a guest suite which you can book, for an additional cost. It has a double bed, a small lounge area and bathroom.
This a great option for residents to invite family and friends to come and stay.
They also have an honesty bar, which residents can use to have a drink. They also include a few house essentials, in case you need them and the shops are shut or you don’t feel like going out.
When Pegasus Life is looking for a new development, the location is really important to them. They make sure that there are shops, doctors nearby and that it is on a bus route. Woodlands has an arcade of shops, hairdressers, doctors, dentist all within walking distance and its on 2 main bus routes for anything more that you need. If you own a car, every apartment comes with a parking space in the garage which is underneath the apartments. It is accessed via the lift and it means that you never have to scrap the ice of your windscreen again!
My Mum and I had a lovely morning with Julie, she really showed us what Pegasus Life offer their residents and it definitely opened my eyes to this style of living.
As my Mum and I drove home we both said how the residents seemed happy there and still maintain their independence, which is really important. But you have the comfort of knowing someone is there if you need them.
I came home and told Andy this was where we’re retiring too, I completely brought into this style of living. For me its gives me everything that I look for in life, but with the comfort of support as I get older and need it.
Pegasus Life are in the process of developing over 30 sites, in various locations. You can find out more on their Pegasus Life
Now if I can just win the lottery and buy my parents an apartment then, that would be amazing. Not just for them, but for us too, as its right next to my favourite beach ever and we could visit every weekend!
Disclosure: I’m working on a paid partnership with Pegasus Life but all words, opinions and content are entirely my own.