For many older people, retirement villages are a practical and convenient option for their later years. However, family and friends may wonder at what the impact moving may have on relationships and staying in touch. Yet a change of location needn't affect you visiting your parents or your children spending enough time with the grandparents – read on to learn more about retirement living and how relatives and close friends can be a part of this exciting time.

Get involved in the move

Make the moving process more enjoyable and support your relatives' decisions to move into a retirement home by helping them out where possible. This could mean helping your loved ones write lists and organise their belongings for when the removal company arrives, or you could decide to become a part of the selection process and view potential properties with them.

Everyone likes having someone to talk to, especially when it's a family member or trusted friend, so make the older people in your life feel appreciated by taking the time to chat with them about any concerns they may have.

In a recent Australia Institute study entitled Mapping Loneliness, one of the statements used to ascertain how lonely a person feels was "when something's on my mind, just talking with the people I know can make me feel better", which reinforces the positive benefits that conversation can bring.

Stay in contact

Just because your family or friends are moving into an elderly housing complex, it doesn't mean your relationship will stop there. While the complex is for senior living only, family and friends are always welcome!

In fact, your parent or grandparent is likely to relish the opportunity to show you around their new home and neighbourhood. If an in-person visit isn't possible, why not stay connected by email and video calls – ideal for those who live further away or have busy schedules. 

In South Australia, a study was conducted on members of a community program for older people, which introduced "social networking" to the group. Previously, the sample had reported feeling isolated and lonely, however after staying in contact via computers, this was less likely – proving how powerful technology can be.

Make your loved ones a focus

For the times when you're not visiting the housing complex or in between replying to emails, your relatives and friends can still be a part of your life. For small children, why not consider doing arts and crafts activities in which they can make a picture or trinket for their grandparents? Or for adult children or close friends, you could make one of their favourite dishes so that you can think about them. Then when you next see them you'll have plenty to catch up on!