Companionship in the community

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Whether older and infirm Australians get to meet up with friends, family or organised visitors is a big factor in reducing loneliness and isolation. In turn, say experts, this has positive flow-on effects for their mental health.

So much so that formal companionship programs – such as this one featured by ABC Online in New South Wales’ Hunter region, another highlighted by Triple J Hack in South Australia and a variety run around the country by Red Cross – are blossoming.

For others living independently, having a pet provides daily companionship. Sometimes, all it needs is a helping hand to make that happen, says Queensland’s Animal Welfare League which runs the Golden Hearts Seniors Pet Support Program.

Conversation starter

Have you – or someone for whom you care – found loneliness and isolation an issue? Was companionship able to be arranged? What issues made it easy or complicated?

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In-home and community care

Companionship

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You would think that aged care facilities should be well-placed to tackle social isolation. But three Victorian experts say research has shown seniors living in residential care report feeling lonelier than those who remain in the community.

With social connectedness a key determinant of health, it was alarming to hear the Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announce last year that up to 40 per cent of people living in residential aged care were not receiving any visitors at all.

This Australian Ageing Agenda article looks at ways to break the cycle of loneliness and isolation.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one had concerns about isolation, loneliness or neglect issues in aged care residents? What actions would you like to see taken?

Have your say on aged care-2

Care in aged care facilities