Planning for the Future: are you brave enough?

February 2, 2022

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

Some of our friends are already taking matters in their own hands. They don’t want to leave it too late. What am I talking about? Planning for the future. But are the rest of us brave enough to do the same?

Our dotage is not something we usually want to think about, let alone plan for. But for each and every one of us there will, as sure as eggs are eggs, come a time when we will need to evaluate the way we live.

We need to change our mindset about getting older and have a look at how alternative lifestyles might make our later years easier and less stressful.

My parents are 92 and living independently. Recently though they realised that if either of them had an accident – a broken wrist for example, they would no longer be able to cope because they are entirely co-dependent. So they are now asking me to look at retirement villages for them to move to where help, if required, will be more readily at hand. Great idea I thought and, in truth, I was relieved that I didn’t have to bring up the subject myself. But it isn’t, I have subsequently concluded, as simple as finding somewhere fabulous for them to live out the rest of their lives. Because if one of them pops their clogs, it is likely that we would have to uproot the other to somewhere with 24/7 care – that would be two upheavals and, as nonagenarians, not an ideal scenario. Point I’m making is that we all need to think about this issue well in advance, while we are fit and able to cope with the move.

So, when Audley Villages asked Annabel and I to visit and write about one of their villages, it was something we were keen to do as the company is well known and respected and we thought it might well be of interest to many A&G readers.

On arrival at Inglewood, an elegant Georgian mansion built at the end of the 18th century near Hungerford, we were impressed. But, in truth, we were privately thinking that this lifestyle wouldn’t be for us as we are both too young, still very active, sixty somethings. By the time we left, a few hours later, we were thinking a retirement village is a brilliant concept.

The atmosphere at Inglewood is exactly like that of a five star hotel. But no snooty staff here, everyone is welcoming and friendly. The decor is inviting, the walls covered in elegant art – it’s a pleasure to be in such beautifully maintained surroundings.

The average age of the people who live here is 72 and around a third of the owners are couples. One such couple, Alan and Jilly, bought their apartment five years ago. They are both very active – walking their dog in the 37 acres of landscaped grounds, Jilly teaches ballet and they regularly visit France to ski. They like the fact that they can “lock up and leave” their apartment without any security or maintenance worries. They used to live locally and so know the area well and are close to relatives.

Anne, another owner and one of the first people to move into Inglewood when it opened in December 2013, told us “My husband and I didn’t want to garden or have the worry of maintaining our house. The night we moved to Inglewood, there was a huge thunderstorm and I was fretting and pacing around the bedroom. My husband told me to come back to bed because someone else was going to worry about any storm damage, not us.” Now that she is widowed she has also found comfort in the friendships they made with the eclectic mix of interesting characters who also live at Inglewood. Everyone is likeminded and has time to listen. “I love the fact that I am now completely free to do as I wish, when I wish.”

Annabel and I can well imagine how wonderful it would be to simply have to walk across an elegant courtyard to enjoy a massage in the spa or a restorative yoga class at the Audley Club. There are no shortage of other on-site activities – book readings, choir, livescreen opera, wine tasting – even belly dancing. In addition, of course, to all the local amenities which are close at hand.

The food is mouthwateringly good and special diets are catered for. Owners can choose to eat in the restaurants or have meals delivered to their apartments if they prefer. And, of course, there is no worry about drinking and driving!

Lime Tree Court

In addition to apartments in the main house, Lime Tree Court offers an enclave of fairly-priced two bedroom properties. Whether the owner of an apartment or one of the cottages – help with personal care comes in if and when you need it. Reassuring when you are thinking longer term. To put this into perspective only 19 owners have any type of health care out of the 103 who live there. Covid has not been an issue at Inglewood and, during lockdowns the staff excelled themselves by, for example, organising food deliveries for the owners.

Inglewood offers, we freely admit, a high end retirement. This is luxury, 5* retirement living that puts you in charge of your future by giving complete freedom and independence to live your life as you choose.

Jane Fonda now lives in an American gated retirement enclave with her own house, but a shared community centre with a pool and tennis courts “I never thought I would ever live there, but it’s great.”

If you would like to visit Inglewood or any of the other properties in the UK, you could go and have lunch (the restaurants are open to the public) and get a feel of the place and chat to some of the people who live there. To explore Audley’s retirement living options, visit the website.

To sum up, even if you are only in your sixties, now is a good time to start looking into your lifestyle options. A retirement village may not be for everyone, but it is definitely an option we should all consider.

Let’s also make/update our wills and sort out power of attorney (not the quickest of processes!), write a book of wishes and do some death cleaning (not as morbid as it sounds!)…

What do you think about planning for your future? We’d love to hear your thoughts…

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