Here’s why staying connected as we age is so important 7



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Depression and anxiety affect three million Australians every year and is common amongst all age groups, including older adults with around 10-15 per cent experiencing depression and 10 per cent experiencing anxiety. When you look around at your friends, do you realise that it could be one of you?

People over sixty are perhaps at greater risk of developing these mental health conditions due to their being more likely to have an ongoing physical illness or having experienced personal loss – such as death of a spouse or friends, loss of independence and/or loss of self-worth due to not working anymore.

Research shows there is a strong link between loneliness and poor mental health. Being connected to other people is important for mental and physical wellbeing and can help to protect people against developing anxiety and depression.

To help older people reduce their feelings of isolation and build social connections within their community, beyondblue has produced a booklet called Connections matter. It provides practical and evidence-based suggestions for older people to help strengthen and maintain their social networks.

For example, learning new skills, talking about the important things in life with loved ones, or scheduling more time for regular conversations with likeable and interesting people, can enrich lives.

To meet new people and make meaningful friendships, there are many groups where interests and values can be shared with people of like mind.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said strong ties with family, friends and the community are important for maintaining good mental health.

“Research shows a strong link between loneliness and poor mental health, however there are many community activities designed to bring older people together to enjoy themselves and make new friends.

“Unfortunately, as people get older, they often become lonelier because they stop working, loved ones and friends pass away, and health problems can reduce their mobility.

“But there is a lot that older people can do to increase their social circle and stay in touch with family and old friends.”

Dale is a 69 year old woman who enjoys playing croquet for fun and getting together with friends to talk about a range of different topics. Her talking circles have been a great way for her to stay connected with others.

“I belong to a group of about 20, who talk about a lot of different topics. The bunch of friends I have now are better than I’ve had all my life, and some of them do go back 50 years.

“I have 20 years left and I want them to be the best they possibly can be. And with happiness, contentment and good mental health, I think I’m going to have a great time.”

There is no one proven way that people recover from anxiety or depression and it’s different for everybody. However, there is a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help people on the road to recovery. The important thing is finding the right treatment and the right health professional that works for you.

There are also many lifestyle changes that people with anxiety and depression can make to help themselves to recover and stay well. For example, it’s important to exercise regularly, eat balanced and nutritious meals, and get enough sleep.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, and to watch the stories of people who have recovered from depression and anxiety, go to the beyondblue website.

How do you stay connected with others? What social groups or clubs do you belong to?

If you think you, or someone you know, may be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety or is at risk of suicide, talk through your concerns with your GP or chat to the trained mental health professionals at beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636.


This article has been sponsored by beyondblue. It was written as we feel it provides the Starts at 60 community with valuable insight into a highly important topic. To find out more about the world that beyondblue does and to learn more about mental illness and ageing, click here.

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  1. Depression is a DAILY BATTLE, my brother fought it for years. He always hid it behind that warm smile and his jokes. None of us knew, even me. I’m so happy that he finally overcame it naturally ( without all those pills that had negative side effects on his body. You’re not alone.

  2. Staying connected is easier for our generation than the previous one I think. Although it may not be ideal, the internet provides us with the opportunities to keep in touch with family and friends as never before. I’ve even picked up new friends through sites such as SAS and become friends with the “friends of friends” on Facebook. We might not meet in person, being in different states or countries, but we interact with thoughts and comments and share photos…..a blessing our parents didn’t have.

  3. Life is fantastic for me since I retired. I’ve made more friends than I’ve ever had, but then I dont suffer from depression, but can truly empathise with those who do. I keep very busy with volunteering and different interest groups. Thing is to find groups who have similar views to your own. I can understand why some people give up when they dont think the same as one group. Keep trying. Country people probably have a harder time than those in cities or towns as possibly their choice is limited.

  4. Staying connected is VERY important. I suffered from depression. If anyone is struggling with depression you should try the Destroy Depression program. It probably saved my life. I cannot stress enough that you should give this natural treatment a chance before wasting money on drugs or therapy.

  5. Having a life generated by purpose to get up out of bed each day. It’s about contribution to society not extraction from society.

  6. ITs very important to have something to look forward to. Every weekend I take a young girl out of care and we spend the weekend together we go shopping because she is aboriginal we go to any activities the community has on we go swimming we watch movies and we both have a lot of fun

  7. People do need people and depression is a Hugh battle for many. A lot of people say go natural that is fine for some but many need the help of meds along the way use them if needed. Good luck everyone!

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