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Everyday life in a UK retirement village: a mixed-methods study

Liddle, Jennifer

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Jennifer Liddle


This study focuses on the experiences of older people living in a UK purpose-built retirement community – Denham Garden Village (DGV). The aim was to understand more about everyday life in this particular environmental context including how the environment and organisation of the village related to residents’ everyday experiences. Using a mixed methods approach, the study draws on quantitative survey data from the Longitudinal study of Ageing in a Retirement Community (LARC) and combines this with 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with residents living in DGV. Data analysis combined descriptive statistics for the quantitative data with qualitative themes. The dimensions of work-leisure, solitary-social, and community integration were used as a framework to explore how aspects of the environment and individual circumstances, attitudes and beliefs shape patterns of everyday life.
The study found that decisions to move were frequently preceded by changes in personal situations. The social and spatial separation of DGV from the wider community maintained the village as an almost exclusively age-segregated environment. Opportunities for social contact were widespread, but levels of loneliness were no lower than in the general population. The diversity in residents’ situations, resources and experiences contrasted with shared community stories of the village as a community of ‘choice’. In addition, norms and expectations about levels of activity and engagement served, in some cases, to prompt feelings of obligation and guilt among residents.
Findings suggest a need for more emphasis on the individuality of residents’ experiences of everyday life – both in terms of representing such diversity in publicity and marketing materials, and in working towards an ethos of respect, tolerance and acceptance within communities like DGV. It is suggested that future research could focus on ways to reduce the age-segregated nature of existing developments like DGV, enabling them to function as integrated parts of the wider community.


Liddle, J. (2016). Everyday life in a UK retirement village: a mixed-methods study


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