Neighbourhood links to health and wellbeing

Neighbourhood links to health and wellbeing

(Medical Xpress) -- People who live in safer, cleaner and friendly neighbourhoods experience higher levels of health and wellbeing as they age, a new Flinders University study shows.

Released last month, Neighbourhood Characteristics: Shaping the Wellbeing of Older Australians reveals a direct link between communities and the , mental health and overall quality of life of middle-aged and older .

The survey of 561 people aged between 55 and 94 in the Australian Capital Territory found factors such as , including trust and a sense of belonging, as well as the prevalence of and in the neighbourhood, impacted on positive ageing.

Flinders academic Dr Tim Windsor, who led the study in collaboration with researchers from the Australian National University, said respondents who “felt the people in their area were friendly and trustworthy” had a more positive outlook on life and were generally healthier than those who experienced negative perceptions of their community.

Neighbourhood belonging was also linked to lower levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness, while a greater sense of “neighbourhood order” – including less instances of vandalism, graffiti, rubbish and crime – were associated with better general health, Dr Windsor said.

“A lot of older Australians are retired or mobility impaired which means they tend to spend more time in and around their homes,” Dr Windsor, a Future Fellow based in the School of Psychology, said.

“Therefore it’s imperative to ensure their neighbourhoods support access to services, opportunities for social interaction and a sense of safety,” he said.

“People who feel safe and comfortable in their environment are more likely to interact with their neighbours, and to get out and walk around, which can lead to better health and overall quality of life.”

Dr Windsor said the research highlighted the need for future planning of new neighbourhoods, or the rejuvenation of existing communities, to consider the health and wellbeing of people of all ages.

“Most of the current research on healthy ageing focuses on the personal characteristics of the individual, such as physical and cognitive health,” Dr Windsor said.

“While these things are of vital importance, we can gain a more complete picture by considering how health behaviours might be encouraged or discouraged by people’s social and environment.

“Given Australia’s ageing population it is vital that policymakers appreciate the importance of supportive neighbourhoods in helping older adults retain independence and wellbeing.”

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Disadvantaged left behind in digital age

Apr 03, 2012

In a world where access to services is just a click away for many people, the well-off will prosper while the disadvantaged struggle to keep up as the digital divide widens and deepens.

Satisfying job leads to better mental health

Oct 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you want to have good mental health, it’s not enough to just have a job, you should also have a job that satisfies you, according to new research from The Australian National University. ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PeterD
not rated yet Aug 17, 2012
Another study to figure out the obvious.