Social Isolation has been an epidemic for older people since before COVID-19. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare “Social isolation and loneliness can be harmful to both mental and physical health.”
So what can we do to support each other in times of heightened Social Isolation? At Let’s Get Care, it is a priority for us to ensure our clients are empowered to connect with other people in their local community. The health benefits of a good social life are many, including improved mental and physical wellbeing.
That’s why we’ve put together 10 tips for socialising as an older Australian to give you some practical suggestions for how to reconnect with your local community, make friends and feel socially included.
10 Tips for Socialising as an Older Australian:
1. Go for a walk/ ride around your local community.
Start by going for a simple walk or ride around the community. Try waving and saying “hi” to the people in your area, like the new neighbours you might not have met before. This is a simple way of connecting that isn’t too intrusive or overwhelming to start off with.
2. If you have grandkids, consider organising some babysitting duties.
Not only will this give you a great opportunity to connect with family, and help out your kids, it will also have great benefits for your physical and mental health. There have been lots of studies done on the benefits of intergenerational relationships, such as energising qualities and cognitive stimulation. Don’t have grandkids, consider seeing if you can visit with a friend’s grandkids.
3. Find a local Book Club or an alternative activity you’re passionate about.
If you love reading, see if there is a book club you could join in your local area. This will give you the opportunity to socialise with other people about a mutual passion and actively engage in discussions. Don’t like reading? How about a knitting, cards or bird watching group. There are lots of groups and societies around for a range of different hobbies. Check-in with your local community centre to see what activities are out there.
4. Take part in an Exercise Class or Sports Team.
Whether it’s a water aerobics class, bocce game, or local walking group, see if there are any local teams or classes you could attend to connect with your community. If you have mobility limitations, you could even see if there’s a seated yoga class in your area.
5. Visit your local Seniors Club, Probus Group, Lions Club etc.
Seniors Clubs are in most community areas around Australia. Whether it’s a Probus, Lions or local Bowls Club, it could be a nice idea to visit, check out the facilities and see if it’s something you would be interested in joining.
6. Consider studying.
Many universities and TAFEs have classes that might offer discounts for older Australians to attend. Whether it’s learning new technology skills, an instrument, or a new language it’s a great way of staying mentally active and making new connections. Your local recreation centre or library may also have free classes, so it’s worth checking them out.
7. Volunteer for a Community Centre or Charity.
Not only will this benefit your local community, but it will also give you the opportunity to reconnect with those around you and foster new relationships. There are always charities or local groups in need of volunteers, whether it be your local charity shop, national park or council, so reach out and see what’s around.
8. Explore new hobbies.
Do you have something you’ve always wanted to try but have been unsure of how to get started? This blog post is your signal to try it! Whether it’s a craft class, baking, or getting a coffee at the new cafe in town, give it a go, it could be your new favourite thing to do!
9. Invite some visitors over.
Whether it’s your family, some neighbours or friends you haven’t caught up with in a while. If your mobility is impacted a great solution is having people come to you. Organise some cards, lunch, coffee or even just relax in some chairs outside. This will be a great opportunity to reconnect from the comfort of your own home.
10. Organise a carer for companionship services.
With your Home Care Package, you can access companionship services. Companionship is a home care service that differs from personal care in that it is less about clinical health assistance and more about emotional support and socialisation. Let your Care Manager know on 1300 497 442 if you would like more information about Companionship services.
If you’re anxious about getting out in your local community:
1. Use Skype or FaceTime to catch up with distant family and friends.
This is a great way of socialising from the comfort of your own home.
2. Spend time outdoors.
If you’re not ready to reconnect with the community, it’s still a good idea to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and Vitamin D.
3. Write a letter to a new pen pal or old friend!
This is a great way of keeping your mind active and reconnecting without having to leave your house.
We hope this blog post has been helpful. If you’re feeling socially isolated or want to know how your Home Care Package can help you reconnect and get out and about again, feel free to get in contact with your Care Manager on 1300 497 442.
Want some more ideas for keeping connected? Check out this other blog post we created: https://letsgetcare.com.au/heres-how-technology-can-help-as-we-age/