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At earlier stages of our lives we are often members of ready made communities, play groups, school, sports teams, college. Within these we also belong to family and friendship groups. As adults we belong to work communities and perhaps as parents we may become part of child based communities. Then we often become part of interest groups: politics, environmental, church, etc.

in company in the woods  As we age we tend to naturally leave some of these  groups as they no longer meet our needs and we  need to watch that we do not narrow down our  interactions with with others too much. Traditionally  this has become a problem when people retire as  that particular community is firmly centred around the  workplace and the sense of community tends to  disappear when we leave the building. Another  aspect of ageing, from my experience, is that we  become more at home in own skins and are happy to  spend time in solitude. This seems to me to be a  natural process as we need space to reflect and to  be in the community of our body, mind and emotions  as part of life completion.

harvesting in company If we have the energy and inclination there is so much need in our local communities for us elders to offer service but I strongly believe that wherever we volunteer it is essential that we enjoy what we are doing. Whatever your interest there’s good chance that there will be volunteer opportunities.

It does appear that in order for to feel fulfilled as a species we really need to do make together, we also like to work individually but as part of group similarly occupied. When I’m working on my allotment and look up and see a fellow allotmenteer on her or his plot I experience a companionable sense of being part of being part of something bigger.

A sense of belonging to our local community is incredibly important - feeling at home is precious. One great gift of community is that of affirmation, having friends you might meet while out and about. They might be folk that you met durng a shared activity such as a course or some social action, etc, or they could be people you have known since childhood. There can be great pleasure in the unexpected meeting.

community meeting  What appears to be important is the quality of the  contact in the present moment rather the history of  the friendship. A quick hug and catchup can leave  both people walking away with a smile on their faces  and a warm sense of well-being. A few interactions  like this each week can leave us flying!

Ageing Better: Community connections predict well-being as we age

WHO: The WHO Age-friendly Cities Framework

Age Platform: Active ageing in the community

The Wastington Post: How casual daily interactions protect your health

See also the Community section of the Resources pages.

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