Decades ago, the options for post-retirement life or when you needed more support were rather uninspiring – you could either stay at home or go into aged care. But now there are many more options for people depending of their needs, wants and finances. Some interesting alternatives around the world are helping the elderly be more independent, less socially isolated and still able to access care.

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De Hogeweyk Dementia Village

In the Netherlands, there is a elderly community called De Hogeweyk Dementia Village. Different to the traditional aged care facility, De Hogeweyk looks more like a model town than a nursing home specialising in dementia.

The beauty of De Hogewyk is that the residents live in their own room in, what is essentially, a “share house” with other people like them. The Village has it all – a town square, supermarket, hairdressing salon, theatre, pub, café-restaurant while also offering care features such as carers, doctors and nurses.

A set up like De Hogeweyk may be the future of aged care, where care is offered while also ensuring “normal daily living” for residents. So what are some of the benefits of this downsizing model as you get older?

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Wohnfabrik Solinsieme, St Gallen, Switzerland

Wohnfabrik Solinsieme, in St Gallen, Switzerland used to be a fabric factory. However, four older adults wanted to create their own space in the former factory and were able to create themselves a new shared home.

The community began with four people, but now has 17 like-minded older adults living in individual apartments. The apartments themselves vary in size, some have separate bathrooms while others share.

Having like-minded people living together in the community as well as sharing communal living spaces, kitchen and a community garden together ensures that though they are independent, no one is ever socially isolated.

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The Shedders, Australia

Closer to home, in New South Wales, there are “The Shredders”. “The Shredders” are not a cult, rather, they are a group of friends who decided to share a home together on four acres of land about three hours away from Sydney.

Friends for more than 30 years, the three couples shared resources to make this dream happen. Before taking the leap so far away in the countryside, they tested the waters by living in a large house in Sydney together for a few years – clearly it worked because they still live together today.

Benetas aged care home

Benetas Heidelberg

If you or someone you know need assistance but also want to maintain some independence, Benetas have taken the benefits of living in a smaller home and put them into a new aged care facility that is to be ready in Heidelberg by mid-2018.

The new apartment style approach consists of one residence having eight bedrooms, each with an en-suite, and access to a shared living, dining and kitchen area. And included with the apartment is access to a hairdresser, café, wellness areas, private dining, landscaped outdoor terraces, and basement car parking.

Creating small shared apartments for elderly people to live in not only allows them to have their own independent space – where they can cook and entertain loved ones, but by sharing certain areas it allows them to socialise with their fellow tenants.

Construction of the new 103 bed aged care home will begin in early February.

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