Living Gems

Moveable feasts!

Progressive dinners put friendships on the menu

Recent studies reveal making good friendships are good for your health and a path to a longer life.

A US research study in 2020 by the National Academies of Science revealed a link between loneliness and social isolation to serious health conditions. The study showed that loneliness is a growing public health issue. It indicated that there’s a 50 percent increased risk of dementia, a 29 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 32 percent increased risk of stroke for people who experience social isolation.

Relationships Australia National Executive Officer Nick Tebbey said there was a rise in social isolation across the Australian community and that following critical events like retiring from work, moving into a lifestyle resort or retirement village can help.

“Retirement villages could be good enablers for social connection because they often go above and beyond to create opportunities for people to connect, but it’s up to the individual to choose to participate,” Nick said.

A study done by the Australian National University also found community relationships make a positive impact on your mental health and help keep depression, anxiety and loneliness at bay.

We take a look at how homeowners at three Living Gems resorts go about making friends and having fun.

David and Laura Tester – Amber by Living Gems

Laura and David Tester found new friendships right on their doorstep. As one of the first residents to move into Amber by Living Gems, they were also to meet other newly arriving residents.

“Wendy and Arthur Williamson started it all when they brought
a bottle of wine up one night,” said Laura. “Then we got talking to Marilyn Luscombe after she returned from holidays and Genni Bramwell soon after.

“Then Barry and Ann Beresford-Harber joined the crew, so we decided to have a get together for my 80th birthday and vigorously celebrated.”

The arrival of Joachim and Lynda Stachowicz made it a real party. Together they make an international infusion of Brits, Germans and Aussies.

“We’ve called ourselves The Ten Tenants,” said Laura. “We take it in turns to get together at someone’s house for nibblies and drinks where we can say what we want, and we do say some terrible things to each other, but all in the name of fun.”

The group comprises four couples, while Genni and Marilyn are single, so there’s six homes involved in these fun nights.

“We all bring something on the night and share,” said Linda.

“Genni and Ann are fantastic cooks, so everyone looks forward to their dishes.

“We’ve thought about playing games but by the end of the night we aren’t capable of playing much of anything,” she laughed. “Life’s too short so we live it up as much as we can and toast a lot.

“We love taking the mickey out of each other. Our crew is a great match because no one takes offence and if they do, it’s just bad bloody luck!

“It’s been brilliant. Making friends at the resort is so easy. I call our group ‘our new old friends’.”

Robin and Ruth Widdowson – Living Gems Toowoomba

Making friends has been a matter of course at Living Gems Toowoomba. In fact, five-course meals are regularly on the menu.

For Robin and Ruth Widdowson, these events have been a great way to make new friends.

“We met a small group of friends down on one corner of the resort and it’s been fantastic,” Robin says. “We’ve made far better friendships than we ever did in suburbia where you barely know your neighbours.”

“We came from Gippsland where we had a big house and big garden but our children lived in Queensland and we decided that maybe it was time to move up to be closer to them and our grandkids.”

As soon as the couple moved in, they started making good friends and celebrated that friendship at a recent progressive dinner, says Ruth.

“We started with nibbles at Jennie and Lex Van de Stoep’s house, then we house hopped to Diana Campbell’s who served us an entrée of Bolivian pumpkin soup that she and Carolyn Cronan made,” she said. “The main course was at our place which was a chicken dish, a curried sausage dish and some cake and ice cream.”

“Next, we went to John and Elizabeth Schultz’s place next door for chocolate cake and pudding. After that, we finished up at Bob and Glenda Retallick’s place for port and cigars,” says Robin. “Hang on, let me clarify. While the men drank and smoked, the ladies drank Baileys and coffee.”

They report that progressive dinners are likely to be a regular event in the future.