Starting the ‘R U OK?’ conversation

On 14th September, RetireAustralia's villages opened their doors and welcomed their local communities for R U OK? Day.

Tea Tree Gardens Retirement Village R U OK

Fifteen villages across Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia hosted morning or afternoon teas, held stalls and invited expert speakers to talk to residents and guests about mental health and suicide prevention.

Older Australians are vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness and a simple question—‘Are you okay?’—can make a huge difference to someone who is struggling.

Alison Quinn, RetireAustralia’s Chief Executive Officer, said she was pleased to see villages banding together to raise awareness about mental health issues.

“As we age, we are more at risk of becoming socially isolated as the informal connections we develop through work and families disappear,” she said.

One in five Australians over the age of 65 are affected by social isolation and beyondblue estimates that between 10 and 15 per cent experience depression.

Retirement communities can be part of the solution.

“Retirement villages cater to the needs of older Australians and one of the most important things they offer is a place to create meaningful relationships with others,” Alison said.

Within these environments, where there’s an activity to suit every interest and village facilities provide a common place to meet and connect, it’s easy to start a conversation or make a new friend.

And when support is needed, there’s an in-built community of friends and staff ready to help.

RetireAustralia’s R U OK? Day events were all about extending this caring and social atmosphere to people living in the wider community.

Alison said more than 500 residents, staff and guests attended the events.

“We all have a responsibility to help others and promote compassion and kindness,” she said.

“If R U OK? Day helped even a single person feel less alone and more connected, it should be considered a great success.

“I am incredibly proud of RetireAustralia’s involvement in this worthwhile cause.”

For more information about R U OK? Day, visit ruok.org.au

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