Loneliness, isolation, and depression are recognised issues for our senior population in Australia and much of the world. Social interaction, or connectedness, plays an important role in maintaining good mental health while also having physical health benefits by reducing stress and slowing cognitive decline.
Some ways to support social interaction in an aged care environment include:
- group social activities such as book clubs
- group exercise programs such as dance programs
- shared classes such as cooking or gardening
- charitable work or volunteering such as putting together care packages
- facilitating welcoming, shared environments such as common rooms
When supporting seniors living independently in their own homes, it is also important to ensure they are not isolated from others, particularly if they have experienced a loss of independence through illness or injury. Providing suitable opportunities for older people to have social interaction, assisting with practical support such as transport and encouraging participation can help improve connectedness.