Having regular social interaction and companionship is crucial to maintaining good mental health. Companionship prevents isolation, keeps your mind active and positive and we have 5 ways you can be proactive to build and maintain social connections.
Connect with neighbours and your community
Stay in regular touch with a neighbour or friend who lives nearby. Even a cup of tea over the fence involves social interaction, and it’s certainly better than nothing!
We all enjoy that lovely sense of belonging to a group. Joining groups such as craft, sewing, and walking groups are great ways to socialise and make new friendships.
Exercise is the best mood booster – and it’s easier to do with a friend. So why not make an exercise date with a friend, neighbour or companion, at least three times a week? It doesn’t have to be complicated – you can resolve to walk around your garden a few times with a neighbour or nearby friend, or walk up and down the footpath three times – it all helps. Don’t forget to check in with your medical practitioner if you are getting back into exercising after an illness or accident. The hardest part is to start – but it’s worth the effort – because you will both feel so much better for it, and you will have done it together. Exercise has a positive impact on your mind, body and soul.
Pick up the phone
Make it a Winter challenge to phone an old friend or a distant family member every day. We often forget that it’s great to catch up on the phone, and there are certainly less technological challenges! If you’re not sure what to say to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, write down your best memory of them. Then you can ring them up and say, “I was just remembering that time you… and it made me pick up the phone to see how you are.” Memories really are the best conversation starter! Your old friend will really appreciate the gesture.
Write a letter
Oh, the forgotten joys of writing a letter! Even if it’s just a card – it’s still a conversation that you are initiating, and it still counts as a form of companionship. Write to your heart’s content. There is no rush – you can take your time if writing by hand has become more difficult. However, writing is great for your co–ordination, as well as being fantastic stimulation for your brain. The best part is – you’ll hopefully get a letter in return. It’s always exciting to receive a letter – that special feeling you get as you open it. It’s priceless. Be the one to start the ball rolling.
Read a book together
How does reading a book count as a form of companionship? Don’t you do that on your own? Well, you can start a new book club with friends and family, and make a social group of it. Set a book to read with a couple of friends, and talk about the plot at a morning tea catch up, over the phone (or the internet) as you all progress. A family book club is a great activity to do with older grandchildren. It’s so interesting reading bestsellers for teenagers or young adults, and then talking about them while you all read them at the same rate, give or take.
Some aspects of storytelling have changed – and many others have stayed the same! It’s a great way to stay connected with younger members of your extended family, and to keep your young readers reading.
Need help getting started?
A Home Instead CAREGiver is here to help. Your CAREGiver can take you for a drive, or to the movies, accompany you when you’re walking your dog – the list is endless. If you’re into arts and crafts, they can help you get it all set up (and clean up) so you can really get into it. If gardening is your thing, they’ll help you with digging, weeding and watering. They just love games and puzzles, as well as cooking and baking (yum!) – and shopping with a CAREGiver is a breeze. Even for seniors whose family members are close by, a Home Instead CAREGiver can help reduce loneliness and keep you happy and busy on days that can otherwise be difficult to fill. Give it a go!
Perhaps the biggest challenge is motivation. Remember, you are in charge of your future. Be the person that makes a start and rises to the challenge of caring for and maintaining your own social connections. You’ll be stronger for it!
Home Instead is a specialist, national provider of high–quality, relationship–based, in–home care for older Australians. We help with a range of personal and lifestyle needs while providing welcome companionship. Our services include assistance with personal care, light household duties, meal preparation, medication reminders, and transport to appointments, shopping and social outings. We take personal responsibility for providing the best in–home care and support to meet our clients’ needs and are committed to addressing the individual and national challenges of Australia’s ageing population.