Home' SA 50s Lifestyle : SA 50 Winter 12 Contents 14 Winter 2012
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Study to combat social isolation among older Australians
An Australian-first study that aims
to reduce social isolation among
older people is being conducted in
The multi-centre, three-year study of
1200 older Australians will look at
what works best in reducing social
isolation with a view to developing
more effective programs of support
in the future.
'Social isolation is the equivalent
to the health effects of smoking 15
cigarettes a day or consuming more
than six alcoholic drinks daily," Chief
Investigator Professor Andrew Beer,
Director of the Centre for Housing,
Urban and Regional Planning at
the University of Adelaide said. 'It
is more harmful than not exercising
and twice as harmful as obesity'.
It is estimated that 20% of older
Australians are socially isolated,
which results in insomnia,
depression, a greater likelihood of
developing dementia and elevated
This has a great impact on society,
placing extra strain on carers,
additional demands on health
services and a reduced sense of
Through St John's Community
Care program, hundreds of
South Australians are making a
genuine difference to the lives of
older Australians and people with
disabilities living independently but
at risk of social isolation.
St John's Community Care program,
which celebrates its 21st anniversary
this year, has grown to a group of
410 volunteers that offers support
to almost 600 South Australians to
help them retain their independence.
According to St John CEO Sharyn
Mitten, the Community Care
program is an incredibly inspiring
and integral part of St John, with
volunteers giving close to 38,000
hours during 2010/11.
'At St John we're about more than
just being the leading training
provider in first aid. We're committed
to making a real difference and
creating rich, rewarding and long
-term relationships which benefit
both the client and volunteer,' she
For St John Community Care
volunteer and Seacliff Park resident,
Aileen Guterres, the program fills
a great need for volunteers in the
Aileen currently visits 94-year-
old Queenie on a weekly basis, a
relationship that has developed over
the past five years.
Queenie lives independently, but is
socially isolated. She looks forward
to Aileen's visits her and they talk
about anything and everything.
'We're the best of friends' says
COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION OF OLDER PEOPLE
Seeking people aged 60 years and over (50 years and over if Aboriginal) to tell us
about their community participation. The Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional
Planning at The University of Adelaide is conducting a study on the community
participation of older people. Study is sponsored by COTA and Resthaven.
Participation in the study involves spending 20 minutes filling in a survey. By
filling in the survey you can enter a draw to win one of 4 prizes of $500.
Survey is available by downloading from www.adelaide.edu.au/churp; or by
linking with electronic submission at
or by ringing Debbie on 8313 3230.
Project has been approved by The University of Adelaide Ethics Committee.
Older People Community Engagement
Older South Australians are an
important and growing part of SA's
population. In the past older age was
frequently associated with reduced
ability, low incomes and a rising
incidence of disabilities.
But older age no longer needs to
be a time of limited horizons and
opportunities: Australians are living
longer, but more importantly they
are enjoying a better quality of life in
older age than ever before.
Improved health is one part of
successful ageing, but other
dimensions include the ability to
express one's views and have a
sense that your opinions are taken
It is therefore vital that we know
more about what older South
Australians want to say, how
they want to say it, what forms of
communication they would choose
to use, and what feedback they are
Research being undertaken by the
Centre for Housing, Urban and
Regional Planning at the University
of Adelaide is looking to answer all
of these questions.
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