90,000 South Australians eat and live alone. Research tells us that eating alone is not only an isolating experience which increases feelings of loneliness, it also leads to poor eating habits which reduces older people’s nutritional intake and weakens immune systems.
In 2011 The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) began prototyping Meals with Mates, a series of gatherings of like-minded older people over good food, to try and counteract this trend. Each gathering is unique – it might be based on a fondness for a certain type of food, a TV show or a shared experience, and it may be hosted in an older person’s home or a local pub or restaurant – but all build social connections and avoid older people eating alone. Local conveners (volunteers) find new hosts, and connect older people with similar interests to form new gatherings.
Meals with Mates is one of six prototypes based on co-design principles, and launched by TACSI to deliver ‘great living’ in South Australia.
For more information see: http://greatliving.tacsi.org.au