Senior Matters: Don’t become socially isolated

Bundamba Salvation Army store volunteers Sylvia Piper and Gloria Fitzgerald sorting clothes and getting ready for the upcoming sale.
Photo: Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times
Bundamba Salvation Army store volunteers Sylvia Piper and Gloria Fitzgerald sorting clothes and getting ready for the upcoming sale. Photo: Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times Sarah Harvey

SOCIAL isolation can have a profound effect on our lives, especially as we head into the 'late afternoon' of our lives.

And loneliness, some evidence suggests, increases the risk of premature death by up to 30 percent.

Apparently if you are socially isolated it's equivalent to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day according to the ABC Health and Wellbeing website.

However, social activity is likely to help mental stimulation which is good for our ageing brains.

Social interaction and relationships with others are associated with positive ageing and feeling optimistic about life.

Maintaining social networks through membership of clubs, engaging in voluntary work and keeping in touch with family encourages interaction with others, prevents isolation and promotes good mental health and physical activity.

In Ipswich, there are many organisations catering to us older people offering social activities designed to help limit the loneliness that some in our community find themselves in.

One such organisation, and one that is very well known within Australia is the Salvation Army, commonly referred to as the Salvos.

The Salvos at Bundamba run their 'Silver Service over 50's group' every second Tuesday commencing at 10am.

According to Cheryl, the organiser of this group, it is open to the community and anyone can attend.

You don't have to belong to the Salvation Army or even be particularly religious to attend this social group.

"We provide morning tea on arrival.

"Those attending pay $3 a month and are expected to take a plate of food to share at lunch following the morning's event," she said.

According to Cheryl the benefits of people attending are numerous.

"For instance we organise outings, run bus trips, hold trivia sessions, celebrate birthdays and organise guest speakers on many different topics to provide information and knowledge to our participants," she said.

The Salvos have found that as people move into their 'autumn' years some experience loneliness due to their partner passing.

Older people have more difficulty in making new friends because they do not go out as much as they did in their earlier life.

"Our Silver Service for over 50's group provides older people with the opportunity to connect with others in similar situations, helps make new friends, provides the avenue for them to be socially active," Cheryl said.

Being socially active makes you think about what you are saying and understanding what others are saying by seeing their facial expressions and body language.

Keeping the brain active, alert and flexible can promote good mental health and positive ageing throughout your lifespan.

Having an active mind can be as simple as reading a book, learning a new hobby or problem solving (e.g. doing crosswords).

Learning new skills is exercise for the brain and makes it work a little harder.

The Salvos Silver Service for over 50s group's activities cater to helping older persons maintain an active brain and promotes the power of 'Positive Ageing'.

"Our group helps bring 'joy' into people's life," Cheryl said.

For more information on the Silver Service for over 50s group contact Cheryl on 07 3814 3096 or mobile 0432 688 510.

The group meets at the Bundamba Salvation Army Hall, Coal Street, Bundamba every second Tuesday commencing at 10am.

Topics:  loneliness senior matters

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