"Easter Mayhem"

Musings from our president

As we head into Easter, it reminds me of my younger days when our family often ended up on some wild cap adventures over the holidays. Adopting unusual pets was not uncommon – sheep, ducks, puppies, rabbits and even one of those tiny turtles that my mother thought were fascinating. Although Easter falls in the early autumn, it has an odd spring like feel to it – but with more urgency to get things sorted before the cold of winter sets in.

There seemed to be more time back then to mow the lawns, weed the garden and look after the cat and the horse, study, play and wonder what to do next. I suspect youth had a lot to do with it and there are many of us now, who have come to a time in our lives when the will is there to rush around doing what we used to do but the body seems remarkably reluctant. Now and then you get a burst of energy and feel like a 30-year-old and tackle the garden, wash the house, clear out the garage or have a day out visiting friends and family – great on the day, but oh dear, do we pay for it the next day!

This period in our lives is a bit like Easter, doing what we can enthusiastically before we need to change tack and lead a more sedate life. There are some who never seem to slow down, have excellent health and their minds stay sharp right into their later years. Conversely, there can be times when life throws an unexpected curve ball and a decision might have to be made to change one’s lifestyle or perhaps even move house.

Downsizing has been on everyone’s lips for several years but during the last building boom too few homes were built with just two bedrooms and easy access. This should have been at the forefront of developers and councils’ minds at the time. So much has been studied and reported on to do with Universal Design (www.branz.co.nz) and Lifetime Design Standards. Also, the need for people to be able to move to homes within their own community. There is much data about the number of older folk who suffer from anxiety and loneliness partly because they have had to move to an unfamiliar location.

In many cases, because of there being too few suitable smaller homes, people have opted to move into retirement villages. This often provides benefits with readymade communities, shared facilities within walking distance, security and the reduction of responsibility for repairs and maintenance to a house. On the whole this works well for the majority of people but there can be drawbacks and conditions in tiny print which can have detrimental effects at a later stage. This is one of the reasons why there is a review being done on the Retirement Villages Act 2003. Our committee member writes, “the Act is there to protect the interests of current and future residents and to enable retirement villages to develop legal frameworks that are easy to understand. The Act provides a regulatory and monitoring regime and gives powers and duties to the Registrar of Retirement Villages and the Retirement Commissioner.  The Act and related regulations and codes have not been reviewed since they were introduced 20 years ago. Over that time there has been an increasing number of retirees seeking the relative safety and companionship gained from retirement villages.”

“This demand has kept prices up and villages are often only accessible to those who have a house to sell. With an increasing number of people renting into older age, there is a significant gap in the market for rental accommodation for retirees. An emerging option for a transition from independent living to full rest home care is serviced apartments and care suites. These often include a small kitchen to allow some independence but some do have options to supply meals, cleaning, and other services as required. Currently, there are small numbers of care suites available and this model may gain popularity with village operators if demand continues. Addressing issues and striking a balance between the rights and responsibilities of residents and operators of retirement villages is the primary aim of the review while also assessing whether the current Act and its parts are fit for purpose.” The full scope of the review can be found at www.hud.govt.nz/news. A discussion document is expected to be released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in September 2023. Grey Power welcomes feedback on retirement villages and areas where improvements can help to meet the needs of older people”.

Some retirees are looking for an alternative where they can move into a more secure community but retain ownership of their property and slowly, places are emerging such as Abbeyfield which gives shared living or ‘own your own’ villages where you share in the ownership of the village and retain 100% of the capital gain.

All the very best for the Easter holiday but perhaps don’t adopt anything other than a chocolate bunny.

Jennifer Custins - President



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