Loneliness: an emerging health challenge

Published on 01 November 2021

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, you are not alone. Some experts are now describing loneliness as an epidemic, with social media, the way we live and the way we work, all impacting on our ability to feel connected. 

It's a serious global issue with similar health impacts to smoking and obesity.

Theresa May, former UK Prime Minister stated “Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time” and launched a loneliness strategy to tackle the issue.

GP's will be referring patients directly to social services such as cooking classes, walking groups and art classes.  

“Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.” 

The health of the elderly are particularly impacted by loneliness, often having more health challenges and pressures on their immune system. So what can we do to encourage people to reconnect and have meaningful relationships?

The solution is multi-faceted, however there are many resources available to support people to develop friendships and meaningful connections. 

Five ways to reconnect

  1. Check in on people in your community. Say hello to your neighbours and chat to people you see in your local area.
  2. Join a group. Call your local Council and ask about planned activity groups, Community Bus services and social outings.
  3. Find out about home visiting programs. There are a range of different community visiting programs where people come to your home to visit you for a cuppa, help with the gardening or go for a walk with you. Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to find out more.
  4. Call a friend and chat over the phone. If you don’t have anyone to connect with, you can call and chat to a trained volunteer on Friend Line, which is available seven days from 10am to 8:00pm on 03 9663 2740 or free call 1800 424 287 or chat online from 5pm to 8.30pm, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 
  5.  Check in on your health. Visit your GP for a checkup.

If you have a Home Care Package with AccessCare, ask your Aged Care Adviser (Case Manager) about the range of services that may be available to you and have a chat about ways to reconnect with people and the community.

Reference: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/loneliness-an-epidemic/