Retirement villages : promises of a lifestyle.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The focus of this study is the investigation of Retirement Villages as a housing choice for older people. Retirement Villages, a selective form of gated community, provide homes for an age specific group and are a move away from the individual, suburban housing that New Zealanders have traditionally preferred. Growth has been rapid during the 1990s with around 3% of those over the age of 65 now living in Retirement Villages. A gap in the social research undertaken on the impact of these Villages on our society is apparent, especially the effect such a different form of housing has on older people. My thesis question consists of three main issues. The first explores how Retirement Villages are promoted; that is, what images are being used to "sell" the concept to prospective residents; the second explores the choices and constraints that make Retirement Villages a viable consideration for some and not for others; the third considers how residents experience Village life and whether their expectations and social needs are met. I used a qualitative methodology, interviewing a group of actual residents in two different Villages. My key findings argue that, assisted by recent social and economic changes, failing health and feelings of insecurity were the incentives for my participants to relocate. They talked about how their own life history/chances gave them options not available to everybody. The actual experience of living in a Village provided a support system for this group of residents enabling them to maintain independence. The idealism of the advertising in which Retirement Villages are portrayed as being able to meet all needs, did not equate to the actuality for my participants. Ongoing social relations within and beyond the Village were required. What Retirement Villages do, is provide a form of housing in which a group of people are given the ability to participate in life more fully because their anxieties had been lessened. A significant issue is the urgent need of legislation to protect residents more fully as extensive contracts do not guarantee protection. Changes in policy, by central and local government, has seen responsibility for housing being transferred to the older people themselves. This practice could lead to inadequate housing for those who cannot afford Retirement Village living.