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Strong Neighbourhoods Ease Loneliness

This is one of the many interesting findings from the survey conducted by Massey University on behalf of AgeConnect Kapiti. The initial findings were announced at a function arranged by Age Concern Kapiti on 8th November 2019 by Professor Chris Stephens from the Health and Ageing Research Team at Massey.

Living in a friendly, secure neighbourhood is one of the key ways to keep loneliness and social isolation at bay in older age, according to our study of over 65s living on the Kapiti Coast.

The study used two established measures to find the levels of loneliness in the over 65s living in Kapiti. The first- the UCLA Loneliness Scale- found that 21% of respondents reported moderate or high levels of loneliness. The second- The De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale which distinguishes between social and emotional loneliness- found that 44% reported moderate to high levels of loneliness.

Prior to this study we were not sure of the extent of loneliness among older people in Kapiti. The study has confirmed it’s real and that steps need to be taken to understand the issues and find solutions. There are implications in the findings for the likes of central and local governments and the Age Friendly initiative here on the coast. Of particular interest to us is the important role that neighbours and neighbourhoods can play in alleviating loneliness.

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The findings of the Massey University study make it vital for AgeConnect Kapiti and all other interested organisations, groups and individuals to find initiatives that reduce these concerning figures.

Strategies we are working on in the AgeConnect Kapiti project are:

1) encouraging people to get to know their neighbours and,

2) establishing a network of Community Connectors who know where to signpost older people to information that can help them stay connected and involved.