Italian friends reunited at Bupa South Morang
While visits from family and friends outside Bupa care homes are essential, so are the friendships within the home. Whether you're lifelong friends, partners or people who have newly met, the benefit of great company only increases as you age.
Aside from providing company, having close friendships can also help to keep the mind sharp and support overall physical health. It's why cultivating a community spirit is vital to bring people together, along with regular group activities and outings.
Some residents are lucky enough to have friends already when they move into their new home.
For International Friendship Day, we celebrate these meaningful relationships, including Alessandro (Alex) Centofanti and Mauro Patricelli. They have a beautiful friendship that began long before their move to Bupa South Morang.
It's been so long that neither can remember which year they first crossed paths. Alex first emigrated to Australia in 1956, finding work at the barrage connecting Geelong and Tasmania. A workplace accident resulted in deafness and partial blindness for Alex, meaning he needed a change of career.
His family set up a small business for him in Thomastown, named the Milk Bar, which he managed until he moved into Bupa South Morang.
Mauro had emigrated from Italy to Australia in 1969 and eventually met Alex through mutual friends and family in the Italian community across Lalor and Thomastown.
They had one of those rare and unique connections; Mauro told our staff they were friends from the moment they met. From then on, Mauro would visit the Milk Bar for shopping but also to pass the time by chatting with Alex. They even married the same year, and their wives later became close friends.
Much later in life, after Alex's wife passed, he moved into Bupa South Morang. After Mauro's wife passed away in 2021, his family knew he needed extra support and care due to his health concerns. With so many years of companionship between them, Mauro knew he wanted to live in Bupa South Morang too.
While they may have a decade of age difference, the distance between them is very little after Mauro specifically requested a room near Alex's.
These two prominent personalities now have their traditions. Each year, Alex and Mauro plant tomatoes in the care home gardens. They then harvest them together to make their passata, a delicious tomato sauce perfect for pasta.
Despite Alex's hearing problems, he and Mauro always share stories and enjoy Italian folk music or Pavarotti together.
They share their meals and coffee times throughout the day and say they're happy to live at Bupa South Morang.
They've spent two years at the South Morang aged care home, and their friendship is as strong as their families' Italian heritage.
Mauro maintains that the key to a strong friendship is being there for your friend, talking daily, and simply being happy together.