Age Exchange: Creativity and challenges to combat loneliness in older adults

Community and culture correspondent Julie Bird talks to Age Exchange about the growing older adult population and creative ways of working to help reduce loneliness and isolation often experienced by many.  Julie Bird 

Founded in 1983 by Pam Schweitzer MBE, Age Exchange was formed as a response to the growing recognition of the value of reminiscence work with older adults, including those living in care settings.

For well over thirty years, Age Exchange has continued to develop creative ways of working to reduce the loneliness and isolation so often experienced by older people, and to support people living with long-term conditions like dementia.  In recognition of the growing older adult population, it has expanded its outreach in the last fifteen years through supporting carers in south east London

age echange cafe

The creative arts are used as the basis for reminiscence work at the Age Exchange where individual and shared experiences, stories, heritage and histories are brought to life.  Exploring memories or actions, or working through the senses are some of the ways in which the work can build bridges between the past, present and future.

RADIQL (Reminiscence Arts and Dementia Impact on Quality of Life) is Age Exchange’s innovative method of supporting people with dementia using a person-centred approach.  It is a model that has been independently researched and evidenced as having a positive impact on the wellbeing of people diagnosed with dementia, including providing opportunities for a wide range of social, cultural and aesthetic interactions.  Age Exchange also pass on their expertise by providing specialist reminiscence training for other professionals, from libraries, care homes, and museums, to name a few.

Sarah Corkery, Digital Content and Engagement Intern at Age Exchange explains:

“Our mission is to change lives through reminiscence, improving health and wellbeing.  Our goals are to reduce isolation and loneliness and to promote intergenerational understanding.  We aim to improve the quality of life and care for older people and those with dementia and to support carers to maintain their own health and wellbeing.

“People are at the heart of everything that we do, and we want to create an environment where everyone feels valued and included.  We believe that focusing on the individual, their stories and experiences is the cornerstone of reducing loneliness and improving wellbeing.”

age exchange entrance .jpg

The Age Exchange is an inspirational space that provides a home for a variety of community activities and services.  The community hub at the heart of Blackheath village has gone from strength to strength with a footfall of over 140,000 a year.

It provides a volunteer-led Community Library which is open six days a week, as well as daily activities including Pilates, dance, and knitting, plus seasonal short courses on subjects such as creative writing and art.  In addition, there is a not-for-profit cafe with volunteering opportunities to help people return to work or contribute to their community.  There are spaces for hire as well.

Feel free to visit the website or discover the café menu:

Facebook –

Twitter – @age_exchange

Instagram – @ageexchange

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