Connections matter. Strong ties with family, friends and the community provide us with happiness, security, support and a sense of purpose. Being connected to others is important for our mental and physical wellbeing and can be 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.
If you want to be closer to others in your existing relationships, you can work on improving your communication and emotional connectedness; for example learning new skills to help you talk about the important things in life with loved ones, or even just making more time for regular conversations.
Equally, if you'd like to meet new people and form meaningful friendships there many opportunities to join groups or connect one-to-one with people who share your interests and deeper personal values. Organisations across Australia offer social programs and services specifically for older people, as well as those catering to people of all ages.
Beyond Blue’s Connections matter booklet provides practical and evidence-based suggestions for older people and their families and friends to help them strengthen and maintain their social networks.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Deegan, Western Australia