How to maintain social connection while living alone
Living independently is a fantastic feeling; but it’s important to ensure your independence doesn’t lead you down a path to loneliness.
As humans we crave social interaction, and throughout our lives we receive that interaction from family, friends, neighbours, workmates and carers. Yet statistics show that seniors and people with disabilities are at a higher risk of social isolation.
Whether it’s support, connection, company or validation that you value from your social connections, it’s important that these aspects of your life don’t fizzle – regardless of your personal circumstances.
This 5-step guide will help you prioritise your social life while still maintaining your independence.
If you are struggling to maintain social connections, or maybe you’re starting to feel a bit lonely, it’s important to speak up.
How you choose to speak up is completely up to you – it can involve reaching out to family members, chatting to neighbours, or even talking to a healthcare professional.
It’s also important to recognise if you begin to experience loneliness, and seek out the necessary resources to better your mental health when needed.
Overall, being honest about your social needs can be helpful in the long-run.
Set time to be social
Studies show that making time to connect is extremely beneficial to an individual’s wellbeing, both mentally and physically.
Many people benefit from “scheduling” social time. This could mean a coffee with a friend every Friday morning, a family visit every weekend, or perhaps a weekly phone call with a loved one.
Taking steps to connect could involve joining a local club or church, volunteering, or even becoming active on social media. Seeking connection can also go hand-in-hand with setting social time as well.
There are a few online resources which may assist you in finding a local community group or activity that is right for you.
Find a hobby
Not only are hobbies a great way to keep ourselves busy, they’re also a great way to connect with others.
Whether or not your hobby involves lessons (like playing a musical instrument for example), studies have shown that four out of five (that’s 80%) of Australians find their hobby helps reduce stress and feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improves their mental wellbeing.
If you are over 65 and are finding it difficult to maintain your social connections due to mobility, transport or technology, you may benefit from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).
Through this program, seniors are supported to maintain social connection and independence in tandem, through entry-level support.
If you are under 65 and living with a permanent or significant disability, you may be able to access similar services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
When it comes to seeking assistance, you may also find that some assistive technology could help you maintain your independence while ensuring you’re safe.
HomeGuardian is a device that monitors and alerts for unseen falls, absence and wandering, a decline in health and changes in behaviour that can indicate an onset of illness.
The system is designed to work in people’s homes without the need to put on any wearables or alarms.
It’s 100% private, fully automatic and works in the dark. The nominated emergency contacts are notified within 2s of the incident detection.