Companionship and friendship help us thrive and flourish especially in our later years. As we grow older it is important to have an environment that supports and maintains friendships. While isolation and being lonely can take a toll on anyone, a University of California San Francisco, study found that the impact is greater on the elderly. As a person ages, their social circle inevitably gets smaller, so continuing to interact with the community, friends and family is vital.
Everyone feels lonely at predictable times, like when a special friend or relative passes. But doctors and researchers are quick to point out that it’s the continuing, persistent kind of loneliness that carries very real health risks.
The Blue Zones Study, which inspired our name, found the longest living people come from a tiny prefecture in the south of Japan called Okinawa. On average, people who live in this community will travel through life with between five and six good friends. These friends are people they can depend on. Who in the good times will share the bounty, and in the hard times share the load. As the study’s author Dan Beuttner said “it is the stress shedding power and influence of friendships over our day to day lives that adds years to life and life to years”
At Five Good Friends we are very focused on the power of friendship and the importance of companionship. Our ambition is to ensure, first and foremost, the people we help and support remain connected to and engaged with the friends, community and life they love. The inspiration goes beyond our name and into the provision of help and care.
We start by understanding what is important to those we help and care for. We understand what they want to keep doing, what brings them joy, who brings them happiness. We design a help plan to take this into account, ensuring care is delivered when people want it, not when it is best for us. We also talk to our and Helpers and Members to understand the kind of people they would like to be with, what interests they share and what activities they enjoy. The relationship between the individual and carer is important. While we aren’t naïve enough to think we can create friendships, we do hope they evolve. The service is designed to have the same Helpers in the home each week enjoying the company of the member and the honour of caring. It’s probably no surprise then that our most used and valued service by those we help is companionship and community access.
Why does this matter so much? As people age and become less independent, among the first things they give up are social events. A Helper as a companion is someone a person can talk to about current events, remember the past, enjoy a simple lunch, attend religious services or just walk around the neighbourhood with.
While we are relatively new to the market, we are seeing wonderful results with very happy Members, families of Members and Helpers all inspired by a simple human truth. Friendships really matter.
If you are concerned an elderly loved one maybe suffering from loneliness and would benefit from companionship please call a Five Good Friends Care Advisor on 1300 787 581.