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Social Connectedness

Being socially connected to family, friends, and the community is not only good for your health and wellbeing, but it also creates a sense of belonging.

Social Connection

Social connectedness is frequently tendered as the key to enabling older people to age ‘successfully’ and ‘in place’, as well as forming the backbone of ‘age-friendly societies’ (World Health Organization, World Report on Ageing and health).

More than a third of older Australians live alone and many face challenges of loneliness and isolation. Some may struggle with health and financial issues as well as stresses connected to retirement and ageing.

Relationships with friends, family, and the general community not only create a better quality of life and a sense of security but also help to keep loneliness and isolation at bay. This is important for maintaining a sense of belonging that comes with staying socially connected.

Having strong social bonds increases the chances of survival by 50% compared to those with fewer social connections (National Library of Medicine).

The post-pandemic effect

An article published by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that constant lockdowns and physical isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic may have intensified pre-existing risk factors for social isolation and loneliness, particularly for those living alone.

Social isolation during the pandemic created a sense of fear and vulnerability within the ageing demographic, many of whom were health-compromised and at a higher risk of serious illness from contracting the virus.

Several years on, many older people are still cautious when in physical contact with others as ‘covid waves’ break out and a certain level of fear remains. As a result, connecting older people socially can be difficult, even with a higher number of social groups now active.

National Seniors’ branches promote social connectedness among older people.

Joining a branch is a great way to meet with like-minded people in a relaxed and informative environment.

Benefits of being social

Social connectedness influences our minds, bodies, and behaviours—all of which influence our health and life expectancy. Research shows that social connectedness can lead to longer life, better health, and improved well-being.

Having strong social bonds increases the chances of survival by 50% compared to those with fewer social connections. Maintaining social connections plays a vital role in preventing serious illnesses and adverse outcomes such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression, and anxiety.

Interacting with others socially can contribute to:

Interacting with others socially can contribute to:

• Enhancing resilience and recovery from stress, anxiety, and depression

• Encouraging healthy eating habits, physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight

• Improving sleep quality, overall well-being, and quality of life

• Decreasing the risk of engaging in violent or suicidal behaviours

• Lowering the risk of death from chronic diseases.

The Department of Social Services’ Seniors Connected Program seeks to address loneliness and social isolation experienced by older Australians aged over 55 living in the community (or Indigenous Australians aged 50 or over).

• The G’Day Line is a free national service that offers older Australians an opportunity to call and have an anonymous, friendly chat with a volunteer over the phone by calling 1300 920 552. This is a free national phone support service.

• There are 12 new Village Hubs across Australia which provide a range of member-led social activities such as walking groups, social events, and guest speakers. It’s an informal peer support network to help seniors age well in their community for as long as possible.

What you can do to stay connected

Talk to someone

Feeling lonely can affect your health and well-being. Talk to a family member, friend, or carer about how you are feeling. Sometimes speaking out loud can help you realise the impact it is having on you and can be the first step to getting the assistance you need.

Visit your GP

Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about your state of mind. They assist with mental health as well as physical health and will be able to guide you in seeking further help. A GP can devise a mental health plan, if necessary.

Take small steps

Social isolation can leave you feeling vulnerable and anxious. You don’t have to launch straight into a big social group or club. Start by meeting a friend for coffee. Just getting out of the house for a walk around the block each day is a great start.

Contact a local seniors' social group

It can be a big challenge but reaching out to a social group or club of like-minded people can do wonders for social connectedness. There are many groups built on interests and hobbies as well as groups simply enjoying a get-together for a cuppa and a chat.

Protect yourself

Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, including COVID-19. Wear a mask if you feel safer doing so and practice good hygiene.

Pet therapy

Owning a pet can do wonders for those living on their own or experiencing social isolation. A pet’s love is unconditional and the simple act of petting, talking to, cuddling, or just sitting with your pet in silence can be comforting. If you aren’t in the position to own a pet, offer to look after one. Some aged care facilities and retirement villages use pet therapy as a means of coping with ageing health factors such as cognitive decline.

Get online

You don’t have to be a technology guru to know the basics when it comes to using a computer or digital device. Just as the pandemic has shown, there are many ways to connect online from chat groups, email, and Zoom, to social media platforms and websites.

Seniors' groups you can connect with

National Seniors Australia

Men's Shed

Older Women’s Network

Walking groups

Australian War Widows


Join a National Seniors Branch

Become a member and join your local branch

Become a member and join your local branch

National Seniors members can join their local community branch and get involved in discussing community issues, participate in social events, hear informative guest speakers and meet like-minded members.

Members have exclusive access to discounts, a yearly subscription to Our Generation magazine, local community branches, access to our Financial Information Consultant for independent information, tools and resources and more.

For only $49.50, anyone can become a member and it only takes a few minutes to join.

Scroll down to find your nearest branch.

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