TV series lifts lid on debilitating impact of loneliness
The second series of the heart-warming Old People’s Home For Four Year Olds was a real treat and reconfirmed Aura Holdings’ view that living in a supportive retirement living community is an ideal option for ageing.
Viewers laugh, cry and cheer as the older participants develop meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with their cute and tiny pre-schooler friends.
The first series was a smash hit for ABC TV when residents of an aged-care facility paired off with the four year olds for organised daily activities. For series two, recently aired on ABC and now available on ABC iview, the focus changed and seniors were recruited who were living alone in their own homes. This series raised the stark reality of the adults’ common bonds of loneliness and isolation. All spoke movingly of their debilitating experiences of living without regular contact of family and friends.
But then the doors swung open of the Sydney makeshift pre-school for the arrival of the bunch of joyful and lively youngsters for lots of fun, laughter, games and friendship.
The social experiment’s initial results reported overwhelming benefits for both groups. The children’s confidence, learning, speech and relationship skills all increased with parents commenting on how rewarding the participation had been for the youngsters. For the adults, comparable studies at the beginning and end of the experiment all showed significant improvements in memory, mood, confidence, fitness and mobility.
One of the seniors shares with her special young friend that “Loneliness feels like you’re at the bottom of a well all by yourself.’’ According to data, 1.6 million Australians over the age of 65 are living on their own at home, with many experiencing loneliness and isolation.
Another participant Rita, who forms a beautiful friendship with pre-schooler Arthur (pictured above left), grows in confidence during the series. During filming while enjoying a stroll around the botanic gardens with Arthur, Rita says: “I would never have thought that I could do this, let alone be here, I didn’t in my wildest dreams think I would be able to go further than the front gate. I’m beside myself. It is as though I have come back from the deep dead.’’
A team of experts in seniors’ health and wellbeing, child development and physiology oversee the experiment. Geriatrician and series consultant, Professor Susan Kurrle, says series two aimed to show the health issues that contribute to physical decline for people who feel isolated. Professor Kurrle says the final results of the interactions on the adult participants was “magical; with their smiles returning and a new spring in their step’’.
“The people, as you’ll see in this series, were lonely, and you really see the improvements. It just hit me how many people are socially isolated, living alone and lonely. What stood out the most was the incredible benefits these people experienced when they were brought into a communal situation. Not just linking with the children but also important was linking with each other.’’
The series is beautifully produced, spontaneous and without scripts. If you missed series two it is available on iview through your smart TV or on the ABC website.
Residents of Aura Holdings' friendly and supportive retirement communities never need feel lonely. To find out more about the lifestyles at our villages phone (07) 3397 2930 or email auraholdings.com.au