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The theme for this year’s National Neighbour Day was creating connected communities. Community living can be a good option for those who are feeling the loneliness that comes from a lack of connection.

Research on loneliness paints a confronting picture:

  • Loneliness is associated with poor physical health, poor socio-economic outcomes, social anxiety, and poor mental health.
  • It increases the likelihood of mortality by 26% – similar to the effect of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  • Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure and the onset of disability. People who are socially isolated, or do not have good quality social support, are at greater risk of dying earlier than those with good social connections.
  • Australia is in the midst of a loneliness crisis, with many in our population experiencing a deficit of social connection, that is, they do not enjoy meaningful relationships in their lives to sustain and nurture them, particularly through difficult times.

 

With many Australians being more time poor than ever before, fewer people know, and interact with, their neighbours and are members of community groups.

Community living has the unique benefit of having activities that encourage neighbours to interact and get to know each other. These include:

1. Staff who can facilitate introductions to residents who may share common interests.

2. Shared mealtimes that provide an opportunity to get to know your neighbours.

3. Common spaces where you can connect to passers-by and engage in conversation or just exchange greetings.

4. Walking paths can encourage walking groups and staying active together.

5. Organised groups and activities to allow you to interact with others with a common hobby.

6. Morning teas and happy hours provide a space to congregate and have a chat.

7. Always having neighbours close by who can help you out when needed.

8. 24/7 call buttons to access onsite staff if you have a fall or a health emergency.

7. Skill sharing between residents. Other residents may be able to help you learn a new skill or help you out with things you might be having difficulty with – for instance technology help.

8. Regular social group outings for company and discovering new places.

9. Community buses to help you get out and about in the wider community.

 

While living in close proximity is not always a guarantee of good community connections, the added lifestyle and care options available at aged care communities aim to foster connections between residents and enable them to make lifelong friends, feel a part of social groups and maintain their own autonomy.

This blog first appeared on Seasons Aged Care

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Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.
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