New research shows elderly are living in isolation

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New research from the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland shows isolation of the elderly is a real problem, especially this time of year.

Professor Merryn Gott joins Stephen McIvor on Summer Morning Talk to discuss the research on elderly support.

The study, funded by the Health Research Council, looked at the current support and needs of people in their 80s in 90s.

“Many people dying in advanced age are very isolated in their communities at the end of their life,” says Prof Gott. 

“I think we all have a role to play," she says. 

One reason behind this is that people in their 80s and 90s may have dwindling numbers of surviving friends. This leaves caregivers and family members, the latter of whom are often exhausted by the time the older family member has died.

Prof Gott explains that family members might feel exhausted with the care because “often it’s without a lot of support from the health system.”

On top of that, she explains that the stigma around loneliness can also prevent older people from seeking help. 

We do live in an ageist society.

Prof Gott suggests one way to decrease isolated among the elderly could involve pairing kindergartens with rest homes to foster intergenerational learning.

“Research from overseas shows that these have amazing benefits both for the older people and for the children themselves,” she says.

“We should rethink our aging population,” she says. “And think of it more as a resource rather than a drain.”

Listen to the full interview with Merryn Gott above.

Summer Morning Talk with Stephen McIvor, weekdays from 9am-noon on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the ROVA app on Android and iPhone.