'Flatting' in an Abbeyfield house

This news item about flatting in an Abbeyfield house appeared in The Press this week.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/76474253/shared-flats-for-elderly-help-address-loneliness-while-keeping-independence

Elderly going flatting to help address lonelinessPauline Lance is a resident at Abbeyfield House where older folk live independently but together. Pauline, right, does alterations for fellow flatmates such as neighbour, Maureen Knight

DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX MEDIA NZ

Pauline Lance is a resident at Abbeyfield House where older folk live independently but together. Pauline, right, does alterations for fellow flatmates such as neighbour, Maureen Knight

 

Sharing a house is becoming an increasingly popular option for elderly Kiwis who do not want to live alone. EMILY SPINK reports. 

Pauline Lance, 85, lived on her own for more than 50 years before she went flatting.

Her husband died at a young age and although she belonged to several groups and was "really close" to her two sons and their families, she never wanted to rely on them to help keep her connected.

Abbeyfield House is helping older folk live independently but together.
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX MEDIA NZ

Abbeyfield House is helping older folk live independently but together.

 

"It's not the same as having your own life. You can't be tacked on to your family. You become a bit of an 'oh dear what shall we do with mum', and I never wanted that to happen. I don't feel it's ever going to happen now. It's all been sorted."

Lance moved in to Hornby's Abbeyfield House in October 2015.

Sharing a house is becoming an increasingly popular option for elderly Kiwis who do not want to live alone, but want to stay independent.

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Lance was among the first intake of residents to the home, designed to address the independence, companionship and safety issues facing many elderly.

"I feel as though I've gone back about 20 years. I've come to life again," Lance said. 

Residents had their meals cooked for them, but how they organised their day was up to them.

"For older people that still have their strength and health, this is a better situation. In a rest home you're surrounded by sick people. We're recovering from the past and digging our own roots down and feeling like you belong."

It was estimated 12 per cent of New Zealand's population would live alone in 2031, compared with 9 per cent in 2006, according to Statistics New Zealand.

There were 17 people on the waiting list for Lance's home, down from 52 when it first opened.

Abbeyfield chairwoman Fenn Shaw said the demand allowed for several homes of the kind to be set up in Christchurch, but securing funding and land for the volunteer-based organisation proved difficult.

"It lends itself to a lot of different groups of people. It doesn't need to be just with the elderly."

Shaw had more than 50 years experience as a nurse, which showed her there was a need to help the elderly.

"What we need as a society is to recognise that there is granny living next door, that isn't your granny, but she could be to your children. We need to be better neighbourhood supports."

Shaw said the smaller house size and focus on independence made Abbeyfield different to traditional retirement homes.

"Very rarely does an Abbeyfield resident go into a rest home."

There were about 700 Abbeyfield homes in 11 countries, including 12 in New Zealand, with another due to be built in Leeston soon.

Ryman Healthcare offered a serviced apartment model, where residents had their own units but shared meals and social outings.

"Everywhere is growing, so we're busier than we've ever been and building more villages as fast as we can to cope with the growth," Ryman Healthcare spokesman David King said.

King said a "compelling reason" to move into a retirement village was for the social interaction.

 - Stuff

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