The benefits of community
From reducing stress to boosting longevity, having good friends is key to a happy life – something residents at Lendlease’s Lexington Gardens Retirement Villages know plenty about.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom,” said the French novelist Marcel Proust. It’s true, good friends are one of the purest joys of life – lifting us up when we’re down, celebrating with us when we’re up, and being reliable shoulders to both laugh and cry on when we need it most. And beyond the warm feeling that comes with having a good heart-to-heart, friendship is also a powerful connection that has considerable mental and physical benefits.
Happiness in numbers
The residents of Lexington Gardens Retirement Village in Springvale, Victoria know first-hand the benefits of friendship – and the ideal conditions in which they can thrive. Recently, the village’s already grand Community Centre underwent an upgrade, that has not only reinvigorated spaces throughout the centre but has also inspired health and wellness in the process.
“The façade of the community centre has changed quite dramatically now – there’s a hotel style lobby, large single pane windows, the building’s been painted and soft furnishings throughout have been changed,” says Assistant Development Manager, Cameron Rees, who worked on the project.
One of the most exciting additions is the inclusion of a fully stocked grocer, open seven days, where residents can stock up on fresh produce – and a café within the Community Centre. “It’s been a really positive upgrade, for convenience, but also for health,” says Cameron.
“The upgrades have added to the vibrant community that Lexington Gardens is known for, and we’ve seen a lot more residents coming down to the Community Centre to meet with friends and socialise.” says Cameron.
According to a 2010 review of research, the effect of social ties on your life span is twice as strong as that of exercising, and equivalent to that of quitting smoking. Researchers found that the strength of people’s social relationships, including the number of friends in their social circle and their involvement in the community, were all linked to better health and longer lives.
The perfect place to connect
For Cameron, the completion of the Community Centre refurbishment has been a great addition to the village, and happy residents are the proof. “Our goal was to ensure the Centre felt like home and was able to promote a healthy lifestyle in a convenient way. We have fresh produce available at the grocer, delicious food coming to the café and a real focus on good nutrition,” he says. “Add to that the fact that it’s a vibrant social area where residents can get together with neighbours, family and friends, and they truly feel proud to call Lexington Gardens their home.”
The new Community Centre has provided the perfect opportunity for residents to become even more socially engaged and to meet new people, not to mention take advantage of the many resort-style facilities the village offers. There’s a heated indoor pool and spa, tennis court and gymnasium, along with a licensed bar for functions and events for residents’ gatherings. There’s also a library, craft room, and barbecue area, all set within beautifully maintained grounds.
The beauty is that you can come in, have a cup of tea, catch up with friends, or just relax with a book. You can be involved as much or as little as you like, but by being surrounded by community, you can enjoy significant health benefits.
Having a sense of community and the friendships within, helps the body process stress, say researchers, and the influence of friends can inspire a healthier life. "One's social life matters above and beyond what we already know about the 'quick fixes' of diet and exercise on health,” says Yang Claire Yang, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, who studies the physiological effects of social ties.
An effortlessly rewarding lifestyle
Back at Lexington Gardens, the Community Centre is a hive of activity. There are residents doing gentle laps in the indoor pool, chatting about the latest village events, working out at the gym and having a game of lawn bowls.
Grandparents are sharing precious moments with grandchildren in the lounge; the sound of laughter emanates from the craft room where some keen knitters have taken up residence and in the library, there’s the whisper of pages turning as others lose themselves in literature.
Resort-style luxuries aside, it’s a holistic lifestyle, defined by its warm vibe, supportive community and a setting conducive to lasting friendships. But when it comes to how many friends you have there’s only one rule: quality is more important than quantity.
Find out more about Lexington Gardens Retirement Village.