Connections Do Matter!
Connections Do Matter!
It is through my daily work as an Occupational Therapist with the Connections Home Support Program that I observe the older generation in our community experiencing some degree of social isolation or loneliness. It appears to be a growing epidemic within our community as the ageing population increases and the need for individual’s wanting to remain within their home independently. A lot of the older generation can often minimise their feelings of loneliness and isolation for many reasons such as not wanting to be a burden on their family or the perceived stigma with talking through problems from their generation. Changes in their lifestyle such as a loss of family member & friends, losing their licence, or a change in their health can all impact on their ability to social engage or increase their feelings of emotional and social loneliness. As the analogy states an apple a day keeps the doctor away” the same can be applied to social isolation and loneliness. An individual engaging in strong purposeful and meaningful links with family, friends and the community can prevent or improve a decline in physical and mental health status.
Evidence-based research brought out by Beyond Blue Australia (2016) discusses the importance of having strong social links with family, friends and community and to improve our mental and physical wellbeing thus acting as a protective factor against anxiety and depression.
“Loneliness is a feeling of a lack of companionship or quality relationships with other people. As we get older, changes in our personal circumstances and lifestyle can result in us feeling less connected to others and increase the risk of us becoming lonely. However, loneliness is not an inevitable part of getting older - there are lots of things you can do to expand and strengthen your social networks”, Beyond Blue (2016).
Access Therapy Services, provides services that work with an individual to improve their sense of loneliness and social isolation. Our services aim to provide an individually-tailored plan that can include, regular social engagement sessions and social linkages (opportunities to join groups or connect one-to-one with people) or access to in-home therapeutic enjoyable activity.
If you know of a loved one who has experienced a recent loss of a family member, chronic health issues, cognitive/dementia decline or a diagnosed mental health condition that is impacting on their ability to social engage and would value an improvement in their quality of life - contact our service for further information. Our Mental Health Occupational Therapists are trained in providing these services to DVA card holders. DVA Health Cards (Gold and White) are accepted as payment upon a GP referral.
Below are some tips for improving social isolation and loneliness:
- Support your community volunteering.
- Stay connected online with family and friends.
- Have a conversation over the phone.
- Engage in Group Activities, Spark a new activity interest, or join a club.
Renee Thomas, Mental Health OT Connections Home Support Program.
For Further information can be obtained from Beyond Blue’s Connections matterbooklet which provides practical and evidence-based suggestions for older people and their families and friends to help them strengthen and maintain their social networks.
Beyond Blue. (2016). Connections Matter. Retrieved from http://resources.beyondblue.org.au.