Growing circles of friends

Belrose Country Club activities officer Caitlin Beyer thinks she’s found the perfect job.

RetireAustralia Belrose Country Club Caitlin and residents

Bubbly and outgoing, Caitlin organises daily activities and special theme nights for the 280 Belrose Country Club residents—a role she says keeps her on her toes and incredibly happy.

“It’s everything a person could want in a job,” she said.

From resident-run monthly barbecues to indoor bowls, quiz nights and Sunday socials, Caitlin said there was as much activity as residents desired.

“Different types of activity will draw people who are like-minded,” she said.

“There’s also casual social interaction that happens within a retirement village.

“It can be just getting your mail from the mailbox and seeing the same face every day.”

The National Seniors Australia says social inclusion—feeling connected to friends, family and communities—is vital to healthy ageing.

Yet one of the first things that happens in retirement is a shrinking of social circles. Workplaces are busy places, full of conversations, and when work stops, life can get quiet.

Beyondblue, in its publication Connections Matter: Helping Older People Stay Socially Active, says loneliness should not be considered as inevitable.

“Having meaningful contact with other people and being part of a community can help you feel more positive and avoid loneliness,” a spokesperson says.

Research shows social connections closely tie to physical and mental wellbeing. Older people who stay connected report better satisfaction with life, delay dementia and mental decline, need less domestic support and enjoy greater independence.

Caitlin said she sees this in a practical way every day.

“The ones that I get to see every day, they’re spot-on with their aims in life,” she said.

“They’re the ones who do get actively involved in everything and that’s what keeps them going.”

She said there was never pressure to be involved, only endless opportunities.

“The clubhouse lounge is used so well here—it’s a central social hub for people to just meet up and feel involved.

“That’s the kind of social inclusion that’s hard to find outside of village life.”

On the day of her interview, Caitlin has taken residents on a day-long bus tour that ended in pouring rain.

“My shoes are saturated from standing in the rain, holding umbrellas over people so they didn’t get wet,” she laughs.

“It’s been a terrific, big day, and it makes you feel like you’re alive.”

For more information about Belrose Country Club, click here

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