More and more older people – up to one third – are now living with loneliness. And, according to Australian Loneliness Report, people with higher levels of loneliness report more health issues including colds and infections, headaches, sleeping difficulties and stomach complaints. Others suggest that loneliness can have the same effect on our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can directly impact our wellbeing and longevity.
So how do we combat loneliness, especially during these challenging times in 2020? We’ve come up with some simple steps on how you can stay connected with your community.
Volunteer remotely or in person
Finding the right volunteering opportunity could help you feel less lonely. Not only will you have a chance to meet like-minded people and make new friends, you can feel more fulfilled and happier in life. It may be challenging to find volunteer opportunities during COVID-19, however, many organisations have moved their volunteering online to adapt. Volunteering is a great way to contribute your knowledge, experience and skills to help others. Volunteering is often flexible in hours so you can spend time doing things you love as well as making a difference to others.
There are endless benefits to volunteering. Study has found that volunteering can make you happier and healthier. Volunteering also gives you a sense of belonging and promotes a strong social connection with others which helps you build positive relationships with those in your community.
Use smart technology to stay connected
Watch this video and see how Helen and Peter stay connected with their grandchildren using smart technology.
In this current climate, in which most people around the world are isolating and travelling less due to the risk of spreading COVID-19, smart technology could be a useful tool to help stay connected with family and friends. In addition, smart technology can assist you to live safely and independently at home with devices that are matched to your needs.
There are many ways smart technology can help: video call, online chat, online video chat, email and so on. While learning how to use technology could be challenging at first, once you become used to it, the possibilities are endless. Video calls can help you stay connected with your friends, families and loved ones. Apps like Zoom, FaceTime or Skype allow you to virtually make calls with others anytime of the day. If you’re active on Facebook, using Messenger to chat or play online games with your friends could help you feel more connected and can be lots of fun!
ACH Group offers a wide range of smart technologies to assist you to live well. Regardless of your current technology knowledge or digital use, our Smart Technology Occupational Therapist (OT) will assess your needs or concerns and recommend the technology that best suits you. Coaching is also available to help you learn how to use technology and make sure you get the most out of your devices.
Join group social experiences
While feeling socially isolated may have lasting negative effects on your health, there is good news: there are plenty of opportunities to beat loneliness through social experiences.
“The aim of all of our social experiences is to encourage you to connect with your local community, discover new interests and meet like-minded friendly people,” says Ross Wait, ACH Group’s Head of Social Care. “We recognise that not everyone is interested in doing the same thing. There’s a variety of experiences available that will let you reconnect with past interests and hobbies like ﬁshing, golf or going to the movies, or opportunities to try something new like using a computer, art classes or sing in a choir. You may even like to join one of the many bus tours.”
“When you’re feeling your most lonely, you doubt yourself, feel anxious, or are just unmotivated and want to be on your own”, Ross acknowledges. “But, while it’s almost counterintuitive to interact with others, that’s exactly what you need to do. Take the ﬁrst step today.” Experiences can be as part of a group, one-on-one, or in the case of the Virtual Choir and Let’s Chat, online or via the phone. “We offer practical support to help you participate, including transport. No experience or prior knowledge is required to get involved – it’s all about trying something new and engaging with your community to live a good life”, said Ross.
ACH Group offers a range of social experiences designed to connect you with whatever your passion is in life. Whether you have an interest in art, love to sing or enjoy ﬁshing, there’s an experience to match your interest.
It’s easy to join ACH Group Social Links and stay connected; simply call 1300 22 44 77 or find out more here: achgroup.org.au/discover-and-explore/social-activities/