Caring Communities

01 Aug 2019

This paper attempts to increase our understanding of communities and how they may foster a healthy and particularly caring environment. In doing so, it will shed light on broader issues in the study of human ageing and cohabitation. Can we learn from cultures that seem to age ‘successfully’? Can we merge their healthy lifestyles with our Western and highly medicalised care systems? Above all, how do successful communities work and how can they last? These questions speak to a set of further considerations that ought to be placed in a much broader context of public health and medical history. The changes in the sociomedical landscapes we are witnessing in today’s modern societies urge us to examine the role of community care in relation to health. This article further aims to explore the relationship between community and care and how these concepts heavily depend on the socio-political and cultural-moral context. I begin with examples of communities in which cohabitation arrangements have an astonishingly positive influence on their members’ health. This is followed by a discussion of the key factors which appear to contribute to a community’s resilience and vitality and I address research which suggests that social support and a caring environment may even decelerate the biological ageing process. In contrast, I will then consider how the shift from institutionalised medicine and care to more community and home-based approaches are in conflict with the social realities of those facing chronic and age-related diseases and how the split between the two seems unbridgeable.