House Manager Michelle Zoe Leggett gives an insight into the life of Carrick Court's homeowners and asks ‘what is retirement and do we ever really retire?’
We live in an age where septuagenarian rockers are still rocking and their thirty something wives and girlfriends are ‘popping’ out future generations. We ask ourselves, ‘what is retirement and do we ever really retire?’
The Oxford Dictionary definition of retirement describes it as "The action of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work".
However, ask any of the homeowners at Carrick Court and they would beg to differ, preferring the alternative definition, "The period of one’s life after retiring from ‘paid’ work".
For many the thought of retirement is exciting, no longer answerable to others and the drudgery of a 9 - 5pm job, their future lives ahead of them, a whirlwind of possibilities and adventures, spending wonderful long days with loved ones, leisurely pottering and planning newly found and long awaited freedom.
For others, the prospect is daunting and they are fearful, although the idea of retirement is compelling, the reality is uncertain. There is the inevitable realisation that their lives will be spent wondering what on earth they are going to do to fill the time. Heaven forbid they might be lonely or miss their fellow work mates, they are daunted by the prospect of spending too much time with their loved ones, or worse still to be paralyzed by boredom and loneliness if their loved ones are no longer around to share their new lives.
While many relish and look forward to spending the daylight hours in their gardens, others long for the chance to live out of a suitcase and finally visit the places described in the plethora of travel brochures and Saga holidays that by coincidence hit our doormats when we reach ‘that certain age’. Along with the inevitable leaflets and booklets bestowing the necessity to purchase thermals and assistance equipment, because after all, you have turned 50.
Whatever one has planned or even if you have never given thought to your life beyond next Tuesday, the choices are not so obvious but thankfully there are enough retirees to talk to, and as healthier diets and medical advances are enabling our ageing population to stay well, our time in retirement is lengthened. Where our paid employment used to exceed our childhood and school days, we now have a new or third generation rather than an elderly generation, their new lives often surpassing the length of time in paid employment.
So now faced with the ‘what to do’ question, many have chosen to free themselves of the vast garden and huge family homes that the children visit only occasionally. Some simply need to have a sense of community or belonging.
Gone are the days of unlocked back doors and kettles on constant simmer in case a relative or neighbour dropped by, this is often replaced by a battening down of the hatches making the solitary of the winter nights seem endless when the families have gone back to their own homes.
Developments like Carrick Court are designed to re-kindle that sense of community. While not for everyone, they succeed in ways that have been lost in the suburbs of 21st century living.
To amble into Carrick Court’s homeowners lounge is often like nipping to the village square where the coffee shop and library are always open and while the square may not always be heaving there is often another homeowner or three chatting, quietly reading, listening to the stereo or some may nip down to the craft room where they can let loose their creative ideas while the chaps indulge in their DIY and inventive pursuits.
Some stop off in the village square for a quick chat before going out to play a game of bowls or challenge the neighbours to a bridge match. Others spend two or three days doing voluntary work and one lady is still in full time work.
Friends and families are able to pop in and out, secure in the knowledge that their parents and friends are safe, happy and are able to join in as they wish.
A recent birthday speech had the retired Navy and dockyard chaps reminiscing about their service days, a camaraderie that exists beyond retirement and well into third generation. Raucous laughter ensued and as the stories unfolded, Carrick Court became a temporary ship, the Carrick knot loosened and they cast off with tales of the sea, treacherous waters, battles and even kidnapping.
The villagers (homeowners) are diverse, intellectual and often highly comical; a community of wise men and women with an array of magnificent stories and experiences. Ideas fly around, events are planned and recipes shared. They may have a birthday coming up, Christmas party to arrange or even Valentine celebrations – hey nothing, not even older age gets in the way of romance...