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Our median age is rising, people are living longer, and aged care is something of a hot topic. There are been some negative reports in recent years on the state of aged care in Australia, and nursing homes in particular. While retirement villages have tended to have a better reputation, in truth, there are pros and cons to both nursing homes and retirement villages.

For anyone looking to retain a degree of independent living, a retirement village may seem the better choice. Retirement villages may provide residents with their own ‘space’, be it an apartment or unit, while facilities are shared, but many do not have access to medical care if required. For many people, a retirement village seems the logical next step after downsizing or moving out of the family home, as long as they are healthy.

Of course the quality of accommodation and range of services may vary greatly from one retirement village to the next, and this seems to be one issue that people have concerns about. For anyone looking to retain independent living, it is essential that the accommodation feels like a home, with the right amount of space, quality furnishings, and a wide range of facilities.

Some retirement villages or retirement communities may offer not only a better quality environment, but a whole range of facilities and services. These might include access to exercise programs, dining rooms and cafes, hairdressing services and outings. Knowing what’s available, and what to expect, will help ensure you make the right decision.

The largest drawback for most retirement villages is access to care and support. As we age, our needs change, but the village does not. At some point, the retirement village may no longer be suitable for our stage of life. Unfortunately many people may then find themselves in a difficult situation that requires selling of the retirement village home before they can move on – something that is not easy if health concerns become a priority.

In looking at your aged care options, it’s wise to undertake thorough research.