Five good friends

 In Life In Our Village

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Elements Retirement Village will turn six years old in early September. Over this period of time, almost 100 residents have made the decision to call Elements home. For almost all of our residents, this move signifies both an exciting and a daunting part of their lives as they embrace a warm and friendly community whilst leaving behind neighbours they may have known for upwards of 50 years.

One of the most fascinating privileges of owning and running a retirement village is the opportunity to witness the transformation of a client to that of a resident. Some people make the decision to move into a community swiftly whilst others consult their families and friends extensively before finally arriving at a decision. From experience, clients over the age of 75 years tend to seek more advice and support from their family network and future care needs often form a big part of the equation.

I have further observed that a person’s social wellbeing, present and future, is often ignored. We all know how good friends can halve your problems and double your joy. According to an anthropologist from Oxford University, Dr Robin Dunbar, the size of our brain is a predictor of the number of friends we have in our social sphere. Dr Dunbar goes on to say that humans are capable of up to 150 friends, made up of five very close friends, 10 close friends, 35 closer acquaintances and 100 acquaintances.

In further exploring the theory of having five very close friends, we should first identify what attributes make a good friend. Being caring, nonjudgmental, supportive, trustworthy and loyal are must-have characteristics whilst the ability to smile, laugh and cry with, and providing hugs, are important physical qualities. Lastly, probably the most important ingredient of all is to actually be there. To make time for your mates and be present. At Elements, I have seen so many new
friendships made and as time goes on, they have developed and bloomed into the nicest showcases of human kindness.

Our residents enjoy many social activities and some even go on cruises or travel interstate and overseas in groups. I have also seen them support one another with meals and company when ailments besiege their friends. Recently, a group of lady residents started a daily afternoon walk in the adjoining Daisy Hill Forest and this group is getting larger and rowdier by the day. The flush on their cheeks and the wide smiles on their faces when they return to the village tell me that this activity has become more an exercise of the soul than of the body. Conversely, the men at Elements have taken to doing street laps as they observe and comment on the many interesting construction activities taking place in the village.

Friends and friendships tend to wax and wane as we progress through different stages of our lives. When careers and parenthood take priority, it is not surprising to have only a couple of very close friends and more family members around
you. In our third age, financial and career freedom allows us to indulge in the pleasure of simply “hanging out” and “being there”. Living in a village is living amongst friends, and this can only make you live longer, healthier and happier.

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