Silver Memories

From: UQ News Online

Professor Bartlett, University of Queensland.
© University of Queensland

University of Queensland researchers from the Australasian Centre on Ageing and 4MBS Classic FM are collaborating to develop a new radio service specifically for older Australians.

Funded by a grant from the Wicking Trust, administered by ANZ Trustees, the new service will address the needs of older socially and emotionally isolated Australians including those living in Residential Care facilities.

Social and emotional isolation in older people is associated with a reduced quality of life and well-being, poorer health and a shorter life expectancy (Queensland Health, 2005). There is also a significant relationship between loneliness and depression with depression being the most common psychiatric and disabling disorder in later life.

Director of the Australasian Centre on Ageing, Professor Helen Bartlett, said the funded project, Silver Memories, will start in six residential care facilities within the Brisbane metropolitan area in early 2008, extending to a further 500 residential care facilities across Australia. Silver Memories will broadcast music, serials and other programs relevant to when these older people were growing up – the 1920s to the 1950s.

“It is estimated that 6.5 percent of Australians over 65 experience depression each year and the rate is particularly high in residential care facilities with as many as 51 percent of high-care and 30 percent of low-care residents having the condition, according to the Department of Health and Ageing, 2001,” Professor Bartlett said. Depression and social isolation are risk factors for suicide.

“Under the leadership of researcher, Dr Catherine Travers, and with the collaboration of 4MBS, we can make the service available to 500 socially isolated, community dwelling older Australians in their own homes by providing inexpensive dedicated radio receivers.”

The longer-term goal is to make the program available to all residential care facilities Australia-wide (more than 4000) and to all socially isolated older Australians through community radio stations.

The program will feature a personal approach with listeners sending birthday and anniversary messages, requesting songs and highlighting important events from their past in a friendly format aimed at creating a sense of companionship for listeners as well as being entertaining and informative. Health and wellness related information that may support the independence of listeners as well as information like grandparenting issues, will be regular features.

Silver Memories will be formally evaluated by the Australasian Centre on Ageing including investigating the extent to which the program positively impacts upon the well-being of older people and obtaining the views of older listeners regarding the content and format of the program with a view to improving its quality and appeal.

Media: For further information contact Professor Helen Bartlett: +617 3346 9084

© The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

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