Expert Series – Why Retirement Homes, Why Ipoh? – Part 1

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(Source: KopiAndProperty.com)

Readers of kopiandproperty.com knows that I am an Ipohan. A proud one as well. Frankly, I will definitely retire in Ipoh. However, I am nowhere near the retirement age yet. However, I wrote about retirement homes way back in 2014 and I recently have the pleasure to interview someone who is trying to change the typical perception of retirees and retirement homes. For those looking at retiring and want to know more about retirement homes, I have invited my friend Executive Director of Total Investment Sdn Bhd, John Chong to answer some tough questions about retirement homes in Ipoh. He started this journey of ensuring retirees have a higher quality life many years back. I think he might still be wet from all the cold waters poured on him thus far. There would be two parts to the interview. Let’s look at Part 1 as below.

1) Penang and Kuala Lumpur or even Iskandar have international connectivity. Ipoh does not. Why should I choose Ipoh instead if I am a foreigner and not a Malaysian. 

mini-theatrette-in-green-acres-clubhouse

International connectivity is only one out of many factors which determine whether a place makes a good retirement destination or not. There are, arguably, other more important factors such as affordability, congestion level, healthcare services, environmental quality, etc.

In this regard, Ipoh has several advantages compared to Penang, Kuala Lumpur or Iskandar. Ipoh has a lower cost of living and property prices here are significantly lower than those afore-mentioned cities. As a result your retirement fund can be stretched much further in Ipoh. For this reason, in 2014, US News had named Ipoh as the third most affordable place in the world to retire.

Ipoh is relatively free of traffic jams and most places can be reached within 15 minutes drive. Compared to major cities, the pace of life is slower, the scenery here is magnificent and the quality of air and water is better here. This translates to better quality of life and longevity.

Healthcare in Ipoh is first-world, the architecture in Ipoh is an eclectic mix of modern and new, there’s plenty to do here. In terms of connectivity, Ipoh is highly accessible by road and rail. Kuala Lumpur and Penang are only 2 hours away.

So if you want better affordability, an unhurried pace of life, better quality air and water, with the conveniences of a modern city – Ipoh would be the perfect place to be. These are also some of the reasons why our Canadian and Hong Kong residents have chosen GreenAcres for their retirement.

2. I know retirement homes are popular in Australia. I am just not confident about the ones in Malaysia. Is this going to be around for the next ten years? Why do you say so? 

Lush greenery surroundings

Yes, retirement homes are very popular in Australia – in fact, GreenAcres is developed with the assistance of Australian consultants.

Since retirement villages are new to the Malaysian market, it is not surprising that it would take the people some time to get used to. We are positive that the concept of retirement villages will catch on in Malaysia since we are undergoing a demographic shift. In 2016, 9.5% of the population (or approximately 2.9 millions persons) were aged 60 years and above and this trend is increasing. By 2035, Malaysia would be classified as an ageing nation. This would mean that the demand for senior-specific housing will only increase over time.

In tandem with this is the rise of employment mobility where increasingly many children are exploring employment opportunities away from home. Many households are dual income households, and as such, many elderly parents face the prospect of having to live alone and this again underscores the need for proper solutions for seniors housing.

Most legitimate retirement villages will also have safeguards in place for residents. At GreenAcres, residents need not worry as we have put in place protection for the residents in any eventuality. The lease for the unit is endorsed onto the master title and therefore remains secure. In the instance the project is taken over by another entity, your lease will still be honored.

3. I am not a single. I have my own house. I have many family members who love to take care of me. Is a retirement home needed for me? 

Firstly, we must emphasize that a retirement village is not an old folks home. It is a lifestyle development that is meant to provide a superior alternative to staying in your own home. Some of the advantages of a retirement village are as follows:

Cost :

Home ownership is expensive. Maintaining your own home has its costs. Things that would contribute to the cost would be repairs for the homes, replacing items for the homes, lawn maintenance, and so forth. For large homes these costs can be substantial. As you age there is also a need to renovate the home to include age-friendly features, as well. Homes in GreenAcres are specially designed with age-friendly considerations. The homes are more compact in size, and are within a gated and guarded 13 acre development translates to ease of upkeep for the residents. Each home is specially designed with more than 10 age-friendly features such as wider doors; lower and larger switches; wider and longer handles on furnishings; bathroom grab rails; taps with lever handles; seats in the shower; ramped entryways at the main entrance; step-less bathroom; emergency call buttons; and levers handles on all doors. We maintain the lawns and the public areas.

Stresses on family:

When you live as a couple without round-the-clock care, there are risks to be considered. Many things could happen. As we age, our bodies get more fragile, and minor accidents could have major consequences. If you live with your spouse, your family could not be living nearby to provide you the care you need, or they could be working when these incidences happen. These incidences would create much stress for the family – mentally, physically, and financially. In a retirement village, such as GreenAcres, there’s a community management team which provides round the clock emergency response and monitors for emergencies through a system integrated into the homes with emergency call buttons therefore reducing the stress on the family.

Social capital:

In the same scenario, you could be living in a residential estate without your peers or in an estate that you could be far from other neighbors. As we age, we lose friends and social capital. Researchers have long known about the health benefits of social capital. For example, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that elderly people who have active social lives may have a slower rate of memory decline – half the rate amongst the most sociable elderly people. Some studies have also shown that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. Isolation is a risk factor for all chronic diseases. Some researchers have measured the mobility of seniors and found that greater social connections translate to higher physical mobility scores and even encourages older people to pursue health seeking behaviors – such as getting health screening, not smoking or walking around. Studies have also shown that the rate of cognitive decline was 70 percent less in people with frequent social contact.

One of the key concepts behind GreenAcres is to provide the sense of belonging in a community of peers which is why we invested in an RM 10 million clubhouse which is the heart of the development. If you visit GreenAcres, the entire development is designed around providing social capital to our seniors – homes are close to one another. We support active ageing through a dedicated community management team which designs frequent physical, intellectual and cultural activities which are suitable for seniors so they always have company and do not stop growing. Elders can be with other people, learn new skills, travel, share stories and lives, and these are all great to boost the immune system.

Feel free to browse through the GreenAcres Retirement Village site here. Part 2 which talks even more about retirement homes would be up tomorrow. Happy reading and perhaps considering. Feel free to write to them for even more enquiries too. If you would like to ask John even morequestions, do send them to me and I will pose it to him. No one needs to make a sudden decision. Drop by the actual site, tour the actual amenities that you will enjoy. Understand more and please do ask them tough questions. Retirement is to be enjoyed. Cheers.

written on 13 Nov 2017

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