Combatting social isolation and loneliness for Queensland Seniors Month

Oct 15, 2022
Source: Getty Images.

This October is dedicated to seniors and in particular, addressing loneliness and social isolation that older Australians may experience by facilitating “community participation” and enhancing “connections” as part of Queensland Seniors Month.

One in three older Australians live alone and as a result, face an increased risk of social isolation with one in three reporting that they experienced loneliness.

The alarmingly high number of seniors that are facing loneliness and the detrimental impacts that result are being challenged as part of Queensland Seniors Month by the Council on the Ageing (COTA) through their theme of social connections.

COTA Queensland’s Senior Month Coordinator, Lisa Hodgkinson spoke of the importance of addressing the impact of loneliness through awareness events such as Seniors Month, especially after the ravaging impacts of the global pandemic.

“I think the biggest issue is for the last two years we have been separated and segregated from our friends, our family, our loved ones, our community,” Hodgkinson said.

“Certainly coming out of Covid people are experiencing loneliness and social disconnectedness like never before and I think that is an absolutely huge issue.

“First and foremost that’s the number one issue we need to address.”

A major focus of this year’s Seniors Month is to “bring people together to participate in their local communities” while promoting “positive community attitudes and challenge ageism” and “to facilitate community participation, get people out and doing things”.

“Through that, we can enhance people’s sense of community connectedness,” Hodgkinson explained.

“We feel good when we connect so it’s around increasing people’s feelings of social connectedness.”

Although Seniors Month is aimed at celebrating those in their golden years and addressing many of the concerns experienced in this stage of life, Hodgkinson stressed that “seniors month is for everybody”.

“No matter what your age, abilities, or cultural differences the events and activities are inclusive for all to really enhance our community connections through that,” she said.

The connection that COTA is aiming to foster will be achieved through a series of events that will run throughout the month across the state, which include everything from a surfing competition to arts and crafts days.

“There are about 1500 events on the calendar, it is absolutely a state-wide event,” Hodgkinson explained.

“There’s a surf competition, called the Salty Sea Surf Competition at Coolangatta and that’s about getting older surfers back into the surf and having a good time with each other, there’s going to be a beach clean up, some yoga, and a sausage sizzle so it’s getting the community together.

“There are events happening at QPAC, called If Only I Could which is an amazing performative art piece.

“There are heaps of ‘come and try’ events which include everything from aquacise to Zumba and everything else in between.”

“There are loads of art and crafts classes, anything from paint and sips to sculpture and dance so it’s very diverse and just as diverse as the people that are attending them so there really is a good variety so no matter what your age you should be able to interact with the program quite nicely.”

Although events such as Seniors Month provide a great opportunity to celebrate the contributions of older Australians within the community, Hodgkinson revealed that “it will be nice when we don’t have things like ageism awareness days or seniors months” in order to recognise the vital role seniors play in society.

“It’ll be nice when we don’t have to have these conversations or to have initiatives in play that we as a community celebrate as a whole community,” she said.





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