A while ago, I went to the COTA Australia annual conference. COTA Australia is the peak national organisation representing the rights, needs and interests of older Australians. The President of COTA, a very impressive woman in her 70’s welcomed the forum and reflected on the history of COTA and its achievements During the course of her speech, she mentioned that when COTA started in the 1960’s the single biggest issue facing older Australians was social isolation and that remains the single biggest issue for older Australians today.
We see strong evidence of this with many of our clients. With age, many of your friends and associates have passed away or are too ill to socialise, you are treated very differently; often ignored and your opinion doesn’t count, your family is too busy working and raising their own children or grandchildren to spend much time with you. And it is hard to make new friends. Social isolation is most prevalent for those who have lost their partners, particularly when they have spent many years caring for them. There is a great sense of loss of purpose when the person you have cared for passes away.
So here are some suggestions to deal with social isolation;
- Remain active. Join a group that has some form of exercise. There is likely to be some sort of local walking group or community sports centre that has fitness or exercise classes for older people.
- Join a club. There are loads of clubs for older Australians. The best known are U3A and Probus which each have local chapters.
- Contact the local council to see what activities they have. Most councils have programs for older Australians and many even assist with transport to and from the event.
- Offer your services to a charity. Many charities do not allow older Australians to volunteer because they cannot insure them in the workplace but there are always some that are not ageist.
- Learn to use a computer. Local libraries often provide education sessions and help and there are private organisations devoted to helping older Australians as well. We have several clients who have learned to use Skype and it has changes their lives.
- Move into some form of community living, perhaps a retirement village or an aged care facility.
- Find transport alternatives. Often many people are isolated because they cannot get out and about. Contact you local council about transport assistance, apply for the multi purpose taxi program (which gives you half priced taxis) or apply for a home care package either through your council or through the ACAS process and use that to pay for someone to take you out.
These are just some suggestions. The trick is to think about what you like and then make the effort to do it and spend what money you can enjoying yourself. You have earned it.
Contact us if you 1800 500 780 need more help or advice.
Until next time