How can we enable older people living alone to connect, contribute to their communities and live the lives they want?

We want to invest in ideas that...

  • connect people to their local communities in new ways

  • support people to connect to their version of a great life

  • facilitate an exchange between the generations

  • shift older people's perception of danger and build their confidence

Home alone

Eileen is 82 she lives alone and hardly sees anyone during the week. She keeps the radio on most of the time just to hear some other voices around the house. Eddy’s wife passed away ten years back. Although he’s close with his two daughters, they both live interstate and only catch up once a year. 

There are many older people like Eileen and Eddy. In 1997 32% of people aged 65 and over lived alone, for most it’s not their preferred way to spend their days. Feeling lonely isn’t good for your health either, people who feel consistently lonely have a 14% higher risk of premature death than those who don’t.*

People like Eileen and Eddy want to be able to make decisions for themselves, feel safe in their own homes, connect to people around them and engage in activities that they love. But it can be hard when family and friends live far away, you’re not as mobile as you used to be and financially you’re just getting by.

With the rapid growth of the ageing population this is a challenge that’s only going to get bigger. We need to think about new and different ways to enable people like Eileen and Eddy to live the lives they want. Lives that include quality relationships, meaningful activities and a sense of safety and security in your own home. 

There’s an opportunity to support and shape the later years for hundreds of thousands of South Australians, like Eileen and Eddy. 

*Cacioppo, John T., and William Patrick. 2008. Loneliness: human nature and the need for social connection. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

What would a good entry look like?

We need to find ways for older people to maintain their autonomy, to enrich their relationships, for families to play a part- even if it’s from a distance. We need new ways of imagining what ‘home’ means in older adulthood.
— Deb King, Research Partner, Flinders University
There are many critical transitions in older age- widowhood, downsizing, moving into residential care. These are all opportunities to innovate.
— Tim Windsor, Research Partner, Flinders University
A good entry would need to be scalable, sustainable and replicable. I would want to see ideas that can talk about how this is something that people actually want.
— Gess Carbone, Sounding Board Member, Change@SA


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