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Love and friendship this Valentine’s Day at Anam Cara Aged Care Community

Tags: Ageing well, Residential Aged Care

As Queenslanders prepare to embrace love and friendship this Valentine's Day, two residents at Wesley Mission Queensland’s Anam Cara aged care community are shining a light on the importance of connection at any age.

Gloria Merret and Sylvia Thompson, two inseparable friends in their 80s, were strangers when they arrived at Anam Cara a month apart, just over a year ago.

Some clever matchmaking by the staff helped them bond over their mutual love of sewing, leading the two to initiate Anam Cara’s very own sewing club – The Stitching Masters.

Beyond keeping the ladies busy with making an assortment of goodies — including comfy neck pillows and soft boots for bedridden residents —which they sell and donate the proceeds to Anam Cara’s leisure activities, the club has formed a sort of social hub amongst the residents and allowed the ladies’ friendship to blossom.

Reflecting on their friendship, Gloria and Sylvia recalled the immediate bond they shared and the positive impact it has had on their lives.

When I [Gloria] first arrived at Anam Cara, I was hesitant. I had just `come out of hospital and had to leave my old home behind. But meeting Sylvia and becoming such good friends has changed my life. We busy ourselves each day with our sewing club and taking part in the day-to-day activities offered at Anam Cara — I just don’t think I would still be here if it wasn’t for our friendship.

When asked what advice they would give young people on love and friendship, Sylvia emphasises the importance of support, communication and shared experiences:

Throughout my life I have learnt that communication is key. You need to take the time to listen and understand each other to gain mutual respect and create a tight bond.
And never take your relationships or friendships for granted. Each day I get to spend with friends like Sylvia are a blessing.

A 2017 study by the Michigan State University found the power of friendship gets stronger with age and may even be more important than family relationships. From sewing clubs to bus trips and birthday celebrations, Anam Cara has fostered an environment where friendships flourish and residents thrive.

As Valentine's Day approaches, Anam Cara is abuzz with love and excitement. Special activities including card-making sessions with students from neighbouring Bray Park High School, arranging flower vases for those unable to leave their beds and the sharing of heartfelt stories to spread joy and cheer among residents.

Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator at Anam Cara, Bronwyn Dawe, said Gloria and Sylvia’s story is a testament to the transformative power of friendship and community in aged care living:

At Anam Cara residential aged care community, we have many different kinds of residents coming from all walks of life, each with their unique story. We get to witness relationships grow over time as residents come together, share their stories and reminisce on the past.
Valentine’s Day is a great reminder on how important it is to create meaningful connections in our aged care communities, like Anam Cara, to build enriching lives, even into our old age.

Sylvia and Gloria during sewing club at Anam Cara Aged Care Community