Traditionally, people compartmentalise life under three stages: childhood, adulthood and old age. In A Fresh Map of Life, English social historian Peter Laslett posits the concept of a Third Age — before the Fourth — those years after the responsibilities of work and children are done. It can be a time of great personal fulfilment for those who are healthy, active and have a positive attitude.
Aurel Sanctuary is based on a model that promotes healthy ageing in the two to three decades post-retirement, considered the crown of life in many developed countries.
“There are a lot of things you have to do if you want to enjoy your golden years. The Fourth Age can be challenging if you are not prepared,” says Joseph Chong, CEO of Aurelian Land, the company behind the resort-style development in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.
Aurel Sanctuary is built from the ground up on the idea of offering seniors an active, holistic lifestyle anchored to four pillars: home, health, happiness and hospitality. The 287-unit project began in 2013 and foundation work has been completed. Two 23-storey towers, Amity and Bliss, will house serviced suites of 1,006 and 1,175 sq ft, respectively, and share a host of purpose-built facilities and amenities designed for high-quality living.
Chong, the brains behind the project, cannot say enough about health being the ultimate wealth. But attaining that goal involves more than morning walks and watching one’s diet. It requires shifting our focus from felt needs to anticipatory needs.
“Many of us work our guts out in the Second Age for our family, to accumulate wealth or fulfil our ambitions. When we reach 50 and want to enjoy life, we see that our past has taken a toll on our health.”
People anticipate their wellbeing but not the likely ailments that come with ageing. “Our model is based on what I can see and envisage for the future as Malaysia becomes an ageing nation by 2030,” he says.
In the pipeline are health, wellness, social and other programmes managed by Aurel Senior Lifestyle Club, which residents can subscribe to. Membership is also open to non-residents, by invitation.
Features tailored for seniors’ needs make ageing in place viable. Low beds and lights fitted beneath wardrobes can help prevent falls, especially with elderly folk getting up frequently at night for the toilet.
Residents with special dietary needs can request meals prepared by eateries at the resort. Choices abound in neighbouring Bentong or Genting, where organic farms produce bountiful ingredients. There will be 25 retail outlets; if these are not enough, Kuala Lumpur city centre is a 45-minute drive away.
There will be a healthcare and wellness centre that emphasises predictive and preventive programmes to help seniors live well, long and better, Chong adds. A 24-hour clinic and an ambulance on standby will enable immediate response in a medical emergency.
Residents will be encouraged to undergo the Ageing Mastery Programme drawn up by the US’ National Council on Aging for those above 50. The key steps involve exercise, sleep management, a healthy diet, relationships, financial planning, fitness, meditation and community engagement.
Aurel Sanctuary plans to have programmes to bring residents together to learn new things or pick up hobbies that have dropped by the wayside.
“We want seniors to be healthy, mobile, active and independent and do the things they like. Happiness requires social interaction. Many people suddenly locked in by Covid-19 realised that healthy living without mobility and social interaction is a terrible thing. Loneliness can cause depression. Once that sets in, people lose a sense of purpose,” Chong says.
Besides good health and the companionship of like-minded friends, purpose is what makes people look forward to every new day. It may involve doing something that benefits others, which ties in with legacy building, the third leg of the resort community, after manifesting happiness and conserving health.
Chong talks about residents with diverse work and life experience connecting with the community around the resort through talks and workshops, or mentoring youngsters who aspire for a different life from what they know. He sees the resort creating jobs and business for locals.
At the end of the day, the Third Age is about self-discovery and fulfilling personal needs. But many from the grey population with the financial means and time to place themselves first hold back because they still subscribe to the philosophy of saving for the future, he observes.
“We have to change our mindset and ask: What do we want? Health and happiness are most important to seniors. It is time to rediscover yourself and do what you love in the Third Age.”
Aurel Sanctuary is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2021 and superstructure work will commence in June, says Chong. Also on the Aurelian Land board are chairman Datuk Rosie Tan and executive director Sunny Lai.
This article first appeared on Sept 21, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.