A third of older Australians live alone, and socialising is now proven to be more important than exercise when it comes to quality and longevity of life. It’s so important to be part of a community and to be socially active, not just physically active. Loneliness is linked to numerous health issues, including heart attacks, strokes, depression, anxiety, obesity, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and early death.
How do we combat this? Well for seniors and older family members and friends, here is what the evidence is suggesting:
- Understand the reasons for loneliness and address them – for some it is support in ill health, for others it’s a lack of enjoyable conversation (note it’s not usually solved by moving in with adult kids – seniors often feel more lonely in this scenario)
- Focus on quality of relationships, not the quantity
- Adopt a sense of mission and find purpose (this in itself is linked to healthier immune cells)
- Find hobbies, listen and observe seniors – it’s alot about interests, passions, feeling heard
- Address barriers to seclusion – if someone is hard of hearing, find other ways they can participate in the community such as volunteering, arts and craft, walking group
- Bring different ages together – foster learning, sharing, teaching and laughter
- Consider communal living – aged care facilities if appropriate, or shared living spaces
- Join clubs, churches, libraries, walking groups, gyms, support groups. Meet new friends and revisit old friendships.
- Get a pet
Our ageing population, busy lives and emergence of technology means social contact may be on the decline. But the evidence suggests we should prioritise this activity for long term health. Find your tribe!
- Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds