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Celebrating a love of books and reading in retirement

World Book Day falls on 3rd March this year and is honoured in over 100 countries all over the world. This international, annual celebration – of both authors and illustrators – celebrates the joy of books and reading. Many of us get great pleasure from reading – from the ability to escape into a different world, through to being informed about new ideas or knowledge. On World Book Day, children dress up as their favourite characters, bookshops offer discounts and schools all over the UK focus on engaging young people in literacy appreciation. For those of retirement age, books play an important role, providing a great way of sharing views and ideas, as well as being an evolving source of conversation. Reading is also an important way of keeping our minds active and cognitively stimulated.

A raft of reading benefits for retirees

Reading is one of the most engaging activities for people of all ages. While some people look at the pages of a book as a gateway to a completely different world, others turn to books for inspiration and guidance. There are many benefits to reading – ranging from better concentration to improved sleep patterns. Other benefits include improved decision-making – which is an important benefit as it has been suggested that ageing has a negative impact on the decision-making abilities of retirees. Reading challenges the brain, which can in turn improve analytical reasoning as well as the decision-making abilities among those of retirement age. Stress and anxiety are some of the most common issues among older adults and reading books can be a simple way for retirees to deal with stress. Moreover, curling up with a book can lower the heart rate and allow the muscles to relax, which can in turn help reduce stress levels and help to overcome depression and loneliness. Feelings of anxiety and stress can be common among retirees and, since many older adults live away from their family, it’s not uncommon to feel lonely. Therefore, one of the most important benefits of reading is that it allows the reader to unwind and relax. Avid readers like to share their views with other like-minded readers and, since they love to share and express their thoughts with others, they are more likely to join a book club. Many residents at LifeCare Residences communities enjoy being part of a book club as it is one of the many opportunities on offer to meet like-minded people and talk to them about a wide range of topics. For those retirees who suffer from insomnia, a simple activity like reading a book at night can make falling asleep a much easier task as it’s believed that reading causes the brain to send signals to the body that it’s time to relax and unwind. Reading is also one of the easiest ways to prevent memory loss, as reading a book requires good focus and concentration, thereby helping to improve memory.

Libraries for all at LifeCare Residences

Every LifeCare Residences’ retirement community boasts its own beautiful library, as the team fully recognise how important libraries are to the residents. They are essential not only for the vitality of a community but also for buffering against isolation and loneliness. They are hubs of information where a wealth of knowledge, facts and guidance can be accessed, and reading is a pleasant and effortless opportunity to stay mentally sharp. Whether it’s a new interest or one that’s already been mastered, there’s always unchartered territory to be explored! In addition to access to books, the LifeCare Residences libraries are comfortable and cosy places where residents can spend hours on end, curled up with a good book, or simply connecting with loved ones through social media or email. Moreover, they are peaceful places where residents can feel relaxed. The importance of creating a perfect library to cater to the needs of their residents can be seen with the most recent installation of a bespoke library at award-winning Battersea Place – the first luxury retirement community in London. For the library at Battersea Place, the LifeCare Residences team employed the services of Ultimate Library, who are a team of passionate book experts who curate book collections, deliberately tailored to the property’s location and client interests. For Battersea Place they curated a very eclectic collection of books, on a wide range of subjects, to cater for all residents. Main themes included history, travel, wellness, biographies, sport, art, gardening and economics, as well as the inclusion of a large section of literary classics and modern titles to entertain the residents. The library at Battersea Place is a beautiful and peaceful haven for book-loving residents to while away their time, with its wall-to-wall luxurious thick cream carpets, soft lighting, and tasteful pale green walls.

As well as boasting a library at every retirement community, every community boasts its own librarian – a role happily taken on by one of the residents! At Grove Place, this role is undertaken by Philip Gaussen; Philip and his wife Peggy, moved into Grove Place, a beautiful retirement community in Hampshire, to begin the next chapter in their lives, and have never looked back as they thoroughly embrace the buzz and sense of community there. As with all LifeCare Residences communities, Grove Place provides ample opportunity for residents to meet like-minded people and even get involved in a range of activities – including the role that Philip Gaussen has proudly taken on; that of librarian. Set in the heart of historic Dorchester in Dorset, Somerleigh Court also has its own library and resident librarian – Frances Riggs. The beautiful library at Battersea Place is manned by resident Sarah Anderson who has had a lifelong connection to books. She was the founder of The Travel Bookshop off the Portobello Road made famous by the Richard Curtis film. In fact, film enthusiasts across the world have travelled the streets of West London in search of the beloved travel bookshop that featured in the iconic film, Notting Hill. The quaint book shop, known in the film as The Travel Book Company, was owned by Hugh Grant’s character and was based on Sarah Anderson’s real Notting Hill book shop. Sarah recalls, “Every time I stepped out of the front door there were tourists taking photographs!” Sarah retired to her new home, a two-bedroom apartment at Battersea Place where her lifelong connection to books remains to this day. She continues, “The bookshop is something I’ll always be proud of. Someone was visiting and saw the plaque that I’ve kept from the shop, and she recognised it immediately. I do miss having all my books around me, but making the move was the right thing to do, and I don’t regret it for a minute.”

Real-life retirement village inspired a best-selling book

And finally, a real-life retirement community was the inspiration behind the biggest debut novel of 2020, The Thursday Murder Club, by comedian-turned-novelist Richard Osman. His description of the retirement village community was summed up as follows – “I found it very moving. I found it very beautiful. Everyone’s in their seventies and, you know, we’ve been told to think certain things about people in their seventies. But they were having such a laugh. Extraordinary people from loads of different backgrounds all mixing together. And I thought this is an interesting gang of people.”

If you would like to learn more about LifeCare Residences and our offering, and how we can enhance the ‘every day’, please call T. 0800 009 6950.
For those who are unable to visit in person, we are also able to offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.