When researchers looked at the longest living and healthiest cultures in the world, they found a few key commonalities. High levels of physical activity was a major point, as most would imagine. Another was a largely plant based diet, which is consistent with the research linking higher fibre diets to a longer and healthier life. The one that we feel often gets overlooked is the importance of your community and its impact on your health. In these regions of health and longevity, also known as ‘The Blue Zones’, there is a strong community in place and social structures to support this. In particular, these regions don’t just look after the older population, they are still integrated as an important part of the community. In Sardinia, which has one of the highest regions of centenarians in the world, a common greeting or well wishing is “May you live to be a 100”. It is normal in this community to live to this age and is something to aspire to. The community supports and values these individuals and having watched documentaries on this region, they are proud of their centenarians.
This has a ripple effect on everyday life, where they are all living close together, eating together, celebrating together, laughing together and grieving together. It may seem almost idealistic to those of us living in a busy city where we barely know our neighbours names and have families spread across the country or even the globe, but to these cultures, it is the norm.
One of my fears during the initial covid outbreak and subsequent lock downs was the effect that isolation had on so many of our community. This is still a concern for many as they lost their regular routine and activities whether it be a sport, activity, hobby or passion, where they would get together in a like minded community and gain the emotional and social benefits of this community.
It has been a large focus over the years at Active Seniors, creating a friendly, warm and welcoming community, which our members felt a part of something. Over the last two and a half years, we have also done our best to extend that to our online community. We would love to support you further in growing our community and the impact we have for you. To help us with this, we would love to hear if you have any suggestions for this. If so, please message or email us email@example.com to let us know how we can help further.
In the meantime, if you want to build your community further, look to local groups or clubs in your area such as Rotary, Lions or Probus. Maybe take up a new activity like golf, tennis, bowls or card games like bridge. Or you could join an exercise class or a dance class.
Also, at this time of year, it’s great to drop off a little present to your neighbours to open up some conversations and build those friendships and relationships with those around you. A box of chocolates or some gingerbread cookies never go astray at Christmas and are always appreciated and you would often be surprised by how much that gesture means to someone, particularly if they live on their own.