Life expectancy has risen dramatically over the last century, and research shows that when it comes to longevity, mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing. We look at how the newest later living developments are addressing the wellbeing needs of their residents in a more holistic way.
One hundred years ago, life expectancy in the UK was just 56 for males and 59 for females. Now those figures are 79.9 years for males and 83.6 years for females, a rise that is undeniably thanks to progress in medical science and changes in public policy, not to mention the fact that, with central heating and other modern conveniences, we enjoy much more comfortable lifestyles. But even considering that, why do some people live comfortably to 100, while others have much shorter lives? Genetics undoubtedly play a part, as do our economic circumstances and the health and lifestyle choices we make across the course of our lives, but studies into ageing have thrown up some interesting findings about the other factors that may influence how long we live.
In one such study, researchers from University College London tracked more than 9,000 participants over the course of over eight years and discovered that those with the greatest feelings of purpose and worth were 30 per cent less likely to die during the study period. Professor Andrew Steptoe, director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care explains: “We have previously found that happiness is associated with a lower risk of death. These analyses show that the meaningfulness and sense of purpose that older people have in their lives are also related to survival.” He goes on to add: “There are several biological mechanisms that may link wellbeing to improved health, for example through hormonal changes or reduced blood pressure.”
As part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), engagement in the ‘receptive arts’ such as going to the theatre, concerts, opera, museums, art galleries and exhibitions was also found to have a positive impact on mortality. The findings showed that adults who engaged in the arts on a frequent basis had a 31 per cent lower risk of dying at any point during the follow-up period compared with those who had not. Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt explains: “We found that arts engagement could have a protective associative with longevity in older adults which could partly be explained by differences in cognitions, mental health, and physical activity.”
Most recently, a study published by researchers at UCL earlier this year found that exercising at least once a month at any time in adulthood is linked to better cognitive functioning in later life – not only better physical health. Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This large study, which ran over three decades and which was co-funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK, shows that it’s never too late to start getting active, and how important it is to try and maintain this throughout our lifetime. Crucially it provides strong evidence that the more physically active we are, the greater the benefits are for our brain health.”
These are all factors being taken into account by developers in the senior housing sector – an area that has seen huge growth in recent years. Indeed, a report published by Knight Frank late last year revealed that a record £2 billion was invested in the UK senior housing sector in 2022. And much of this investment is in the luxury later living category – developments offering concierge services, spas and cocktail bars, that are more akin to five-star hotels than traditional care homes. If we are living longer lives, why shouldn’t we do so in comfort and style?
There are several such developments on our doorstep here in north London. So what can they offer prospective residents in terms of wellbeing?
Pegasus, part of the Lifestory Group are redefining retirement through the creation of high quality homes and communities, designed to enrich customers’ lives. Emily Nesbitt, regional marketing director at Lifestory Group answers our questions.
Tell us about what makes the development special: Fitzjohn’s is arguably one of Hampstead’s finest later living communities, with inspired architecture, bespoke design interiors, specially curated furniture pieces, handcrafted lighting and accessories and original artwork by local artists, as well as luxurious lifestyle facilities.
At Fitzjohn’s we pride ourselves on offering services that are personal, attentive and discreet, to ensure complete support, and put wellbeing at the forefront of the living experience, ensuring that whilst Fitzjohn’s has all of the luxury of a five-star hotel, it is still a safe and secure place to come home to. The role of the general manager, Melanie Miotti, is flexible and will adapt with residents’ desires and demands, ensuring a completely tailored experience for residents. She is supported by a concierge who is available on-site 24/7.
Why is wellbeing so important for this market? As people move into later life, the importance of keeping active and engaging in wellness activities becomes crucial. Proven benefits of exercise in later life include counteracting the loss of bone density, which can aid balance and prevent falls and bone breakages, as well as decreasing the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Regular physical activity can also help a host of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Importantly, exercise can also have a great mental benefit, reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety and providing a general boost in mood.
How do you create the optimum environment for longevity? Firstly, our location in a desirable residential area provides easy access to local amenities such as shops, restaurants, and healthcare facilities. This can help residents to maintain an active and engaged lifestyle, which is essential for promoting longevity.
Secondly, Fitzjohn’s provides a range of luxurious and high-quality amenities and services that cater to the needs and preferences of older adults. This includes spacious and well-appointed apartments and high-end spa facilities offering personalised treatments, and both one-to-one and group fitness sessions, designed to promote wellness and relaxation.
Thirdly, Fitzjohn’s is staffed by a team of experienced and compassionate professionals who are committed to providing personalised attention to each resident. This can help to ensure that residents receive the support and assistance they need to maintain their health and wellbeing and can also provide peace of mind to family members and loved ones.
What amenities, services, events and activities do you offer to enhance mental and physical wellbeing? The premium wellness facilities at Fitzjohn’s include two wellness lounges with loungers, a spectacular hydrotherapy pool, herbal sauna and a salt steam room infused with aromatherapy oils, colour light therapy and natural salt inhalation. The spa and garden floor are complete with a treatment room for massages and beauty treatments, and a large exercise studio for Pilates or bespoke one-to-one fitness training. Other facilities range from a seating area overlooking the garden, owners’ club lounge with a bar and coffee station, lift lobby with a library, and the peaceful landscaped courtyard garden where residents can sit and enjoy a morning coffee or evening drink in the summer.
Fitzjohn’s host a wide range of lifestyle events which include wine tasting evenings, art exhibitions and more, all of which are designed to encourage socialisation and bring the local community together.
Can accommodation be adapted for residents as their needs change? Within Fitzjohn’s, each apartment offers interconnected rooms and hallways which allows for maximum flexibility in how the spaces are used, with Juliet balconies to all the principal rooms allowing for fresh air and light to cascade into the living spaces.
Fitzjohn’s is currently one of 35 developments from Pegasus and provides accommodation in 29 luxurious apartments designed exclusively for those over 60. Prices start from £2,220,000. For further information, call 020 7980 8741 or visit fitzjohnsnw3.com
THE OREN, HAMPSTEAD
Elysian Residences provide a completely unique retirement living environment, combining luxury property development expertise with hospitality experience, creating highly desirable luxury apartments, in accessible landscaped locations, and creating vibrant communities. Their first London location is due to open next year. Katherine Rose from Elysian Residences answers our questions.
Tell us about what will make the development special? The Oren will deliver a new concept in luxury retirement living with world-class contemporary architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and an exceptional level of service.
Combining hotel style amenities with facilities found in the best private residences, The Oren will include a manned concierge reception, a library curated by a professional bookstore, fine dining restaurant, health spa with swimming pool and 24-hour care if required, set in beautiful Japanese inspired landscaped gardens designed to enhance health and wellbeing.
Close to Hampstead Heath, located on West Heath Road, one of Hampstead’s most sought after addresses, The Oren has been designed by Alan Stanton of RIBA Stirling prize-winning architectural practice Stanton Williams, with the striking contemporary architecture inspired by Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the rich history of modern buildings in the local area, such as Highpoint in Highgate. The gardens are designed by award-winning Chelsea Flower Show landscape designer Christopher Bradley-Hole.
The Oren provides homeowners with an opportunity to live an unlimited lifestyle in a unique and full of life environment.
Why is wellbeing so important for this market? Wellbeing has become increasingly important for people of all ages. As we discover the impact of how and where we live on our physical and mental health, we are seeing more clearly the causes and effects, and understanding how a small change can make a great difference to how we feel.
How do you create the optimum environment for longevity? We believe passionately that, as you get older, life can and should be fulfilling, engaging, and uplifting. Providing the right physical environment and facilities is an essential part, but so too is creating a community and culture that supports and encourages wellbeing, through both private and communal activities and events.
What amenities, services, events and activities do you offer to enhance mental and physical wellbeing? Amenities at The Oren include a fully equipped spa and wellness centre, incorporating a gym, swimming pool, treatment rooms, private hair and beauty salon and a medical consultation room, alongside 24-hour care if required. There is also dog washing facilities for pets and secure underground parking, including charging points for electric vehicles.
The ‘theatre’ style kitchen in The Oren’s on-site restaurant encourages homeowners to be on first-name terms with the chefs, creating both a great place to dine and a place to learn how to make healthy eating choices. Nutritious fresh food and the finest seasonal ingredients create ever-changing menus that allow homeowners to discover new dishes all the time. For special occasions the concierge can book the private dining room for a party, or arrange a fully-catered and staffed event in a homeowner’s apartment.
Planned around the personal preferences of homeowners, events might include yoga, Pilates, hydrotherapy exercise classes, cardio classes, strength training, gardening, art, cookery classes, talks from visiting lecturers, supper clubs, music recitals, travel opportunities and language lessons.
And what healthcare services can homeowners benefit from? A natural extension of our staff’s matchless service day-to-day is the additional care, assistance and support that is also available should homeowners’ needs alter over time.
Our teams are trained to provide expert care discreetly in the comfortable surroundings of a customer’s home. We will also arrange for doctors or nurses to visit if required, giving security and peace of mind for the future. And we promise to do everything we can to enable homeowners to have the best quality of life possible.
We are a Care Quality Commission registered provider of homecare domiciliary services. Can accommodation be adapted for homeowners as their needs change? Individual apartments have all been designed to accommodate changing needs of homeowners, and can be adapted if and when needed, helping to ensure independence.
The Oren is currently one of 11 Elysian Residences and will provide 46 apartments, including four penthouses, with build completion expected in 2024. Apartment prices at The Oren start from £1.7 million. For further information, call 0808 296 5665 or visit elysianresidences.com