Research and experience has always shown that social interaction and community support plays a significant role in overall health and well-being, especially as people age. Spending time with friends and family can boost quality of life, including both physical and mental health.
Benefits of staying engaged in a community especially as we age are quite obvious and positively enhance our lives in a multitude of ways. In fact, the far-reaching effects cannot be quantified or measured but they cannot be missed.
Yet it is also common knowledge that loneliness, especially among the older people, is reaching epidemic proportions.
You may be in good health & independent but if you’re still living in a neighbourhood where you hardly know anyone or you live in a home which earlier had kids who have since moved out or a partner who has passed away– it can actually become a drain on your health.
On the other hand, living in an environment with a significant ‘social capital’ can make a huge difference. Social Capital can include friendly neighbours, coffee groups, and a neighbourhood which you can trust & so on.
My wife has recently moved to a full-term care facility and it’s a tough time but I have a strong network of neighbours and friends which keeps me going. I am also the resident manager so I ensure that I look after the park & residents and any issues which come up as well. Mr Les Knowles, resident
So what can we do to increase this social capital as it can directly contribute to enhanced, happier lives, reduced risks of mental health issues and a general feeling of well-being?
We did a survey of our residents on some of our parks & asked them questions like:-
1. Do you have neighbours who you can rely on for support in times of illness or emergency
2. Do you have a support group of neighbours or friends local to where you live?
3. Do you participate in weekly or monthly get-togethers like coffee mornings
4. Do you feel safe and happy in your neighbourhood?
A very high number of people (87%) replied in affirmation to having friends and neighbours in their park that they can rely on and also who are part of a regular group of friends.
In fact, many residents mentioned how being part of this community has helped them in being in control of their health and care. They also feel that it has given them a purpose in life and has created a mutually-enhancing environment in the parks.
Couldn’t be better! My health which has been quite poor over the years has improved so much! I love all park residents so much, everyone knows everyone – it’s like we live in a 1970s style neighbourhood. I literally hate leaving the park and I just love coming back! I love every single minute of my life on the park- every single minute! Jill Ash, Resident St. Dominic Park
Imagine you are 80 years old and lost your partner. You live in a friendly residential park and meet every Monday and Thursday morning with some of your other neighbours to have a coffee in a common place or someone’s home. Now imagine that you live in an area where there aren’t enough jobs, people have turned to crime and you’re too afraid to go out of the house. What impact might each of these circumstances have on your health and wellbeing?
Park homes are at least 50% or less cost-wise compared to conventional brick-mortar homes in the same location, they are low maintenance, well insulated and energy-efficient.
Buying one can release the equity tied up in your existing home, giving you more cash in your bank account.