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Social Isolation and Older Australians

A possible consequence of ageing is social isolation, which is a major health risk for the ageing population.

Social isolation can be common as you get older and is usually a result of many circumstances. Your friends and family often move away to be closer to their children. Friends often reach the point where they’re no longer able to live independently. They might move into an aged care home due to increases in care needs.

Furthermore, at this stage in your life you might have had many of your friends and loved ones (including your spouse) pass away. This can result in you ceasing to participate in the social activities that you once enjoyed with long time friends and family.

It’s common that you’ve stopped going out due to changes in your physical health status, such as mobility restrictions, incontinence or impaired vision.

If you’ve stopped going out because you no longer have a network of friends to interact with, you’re not alone. Other factors might’ve resulted in you stopping these social interactions. For example, you may have had to relinquish your driver’s licence and aren’t sure how you can attend your once scheduled activities. For one or many of these reasons, social isolation is real for many older Australians.

Feeling Lonely

Many people who are socially isolated really miss the company that they once enjoyed. The only people that they may interact with on a regular basis are carers, and health professionals. They might not live in the same city as their children and grandchildren, and life can become very lonely. Consequently the ageing person can suffer from depression and anxiety.

man holding head in hands

Participating in Social Activities

From a different perspective, many ageing people feel pressured into joining in and participating in social activities. Their  family members or carers might tell them that they should participate with the best of intentions. This can create discomfort and anxiety for the aged person.

On the other hand, many older Australians are unaware that there are a variety of government funded programs on offer. These programs intend to improve community and social involvement. There are also many private organisations offering community events and support services that may be of interest.

The delivery of services can be both within the community and in your own homes, in either a group capacity or one to one interaction. Often providers of social events and community services offer transport too.

Funding for these aged care services in the community are accessible by initially getting in contact with My Aged Care. If you’re eligible for government funded aged care services such as a home care package, you might be able to get community programs included into the services that you receive.

Where to Get Help

If you feel as though you’re socially isolated, or suffering from depression or anxiety, there’s support available. You can visit beyondblue online or contact them by calling 1300 224 363. You may also like to discuss your feelings with your General Practitioner or a mental health nurse. They can point you in the right direction to seek help and support.

 

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