Small communities bring big health benefits

Dec 18, 2020

Even the smallest interactions with our neighbours and community can have a significant effect on not only our short-term health, but our long-term mental and physical health.

In a study published last year in Plos Medicine researchers identified that maintaining social activity helps lower the risk of developing dementia along with other major preventative benefits for issues like depression, cardiovascular disease, cognitive deterioration, decline in mobility and increased risk of early death.

With feelings of loneliness particularly prevalent amongst groups such as young mothers, empty nesters, and the elderly, the last few months of social isolation is estimated to have had serious health implications across the board.

Ingenia Rental resident Sinnika Smith said that she’s always liked to help people and that her focus has recently been on supporting the mental health of her neighbours.

“I retired from hospice nursing earlier this year, and after being in that industry for 35 years you really appreciate how important sincere human connection is for mental wellbeing,” Ms Smith.

“My neighbours know they can come to me if they get injured, and I recently helped a young woman who had cut her foot, but it’s great that they also know they can reach out to me for a more meaningful conversation.”

One of Sinnika’s neighbours Maureen Rodgers said that she used her sewing skills to help residents with clothing repairs and to make friends.

“I’ve always been a person who likes to help and it’s such a wonderful feeling being able to keep doing what I love, which is sewing, and make great connections with people in my community.

“The best part of living in a community like this is that there is always someone that is looking out for you, it gives you great peace of mind knowing that you’re never far away from a good support network.

Ingenia Rental Village manager Ona Berghan-Wylie said that she has seen how hard the past few months has been on residents, but that their resilience and focus on connectivity has been inspiring.

“Sinnika and Maureen are just two fantastic examples of the community we have here, there have been so many acts of kindness.

“Our new community centre officially opened in February and that obviously had to close over March and April, but it’s so great that a few people at a time can enjoy the space in line with safe social distancing.

“Our residents have always been inclined to socialise with one another, so to have restrictions start to ease will be a welcome relief for many.