But what is the difference between a retirement village and a Life Plan Community like The Overlook? What are the common advantages and where do these two styles of communities diverge? What is a retirement village? Retirement villages in Massachusetts are unique in that you don’t have to move out of your house to join one. A retirement village, which is not attached to a facility or a larger company, is a sort of cross between a 55+ community and a homeowners association. For a monthly fee, you are part of a “village,” which may include anything from social events to occasional rides to the grocery store. These services allow you to continue living your active lifestyle in your original house and neighborhood. What are the common advantages? Both Life Plan Communities and the retirement villages in Massachusetts offer some level of services to their members. Both may include in their monthly or annual fees scheduled transportation and/or help with household tasks. However, the biggest advantage they share is the way they facilitate increased social integration. Social integration simply refers to how much you interact with people face-to-face throughout your day. Aside from your close friends and family, who do you talk to on a regular basis? Do you strike up a conversation with the person who makes your coffee? Are you part of a book club or a weekly poker game? The combination of your relationships and these small moments of interaction is what constitutes social integration. According to Susan Pinker, developmental psychologist and author of the book The Village Effect, social integration may be the biggest predictor of lifespan. In her TED Talk, Pinker explains that the brain’s chemistry changes when we regularly interact with each other. During social interaction, chemicals in the brain like cortisol, which is responsible for stress, decrease while chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin, which are associated with happiness and security, increase. Pinker’s main takeaway was that social integration creates “a biological force field against disease and decline.” Where do they diverge? Although both types of community offer social integration, Life Plan Communities offer significantly more services and amenities. For instance, at a Life Plan Community like The Overlook, you live a completely maintenance-free lifestyle. You will never have to shovel snow, clean your bathroom or mow your lawn. All landscaping and household upkeep are included. In a retirement village, you may receive help with some chores, but maintenance and any major home repairs are still your responsibility. The social opportunities in a Life Plan Community are also more reliably available. In retirement villages in Massachusetts, a number of factors can disrupt social integration. The makeup of the neighborhood might change, or the village’s organizers could stop prioritizing social events. At a Life Plan Community like The Overlook, social and cultural enrichment are always at the forefront of the community’s goals. Everything stays tight-knit and integrated. Lastly, a Life Plan Community will offer a full continuum of care for little to no change to your monthly fee or living situation. A retirement village may provide occasional transportation to a doctor’s appointment, but at a Life Plan Community, you don’t need to arrange for anything or worry about inflating healthcare costs. You also will never have to leave the community because the continuum of care is all located under one roof. Should the need arise, any care you may ever need will be accessible and, most importantly, guaranteed. If you’re interested in the Life Plan Community advantages that go beyond those of a retirement village, call The Overlook at 508-202-4090 or click here to request a free information kit.