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Staying connected and well in a changing world

Gerard Mansour
Staying connected and well in a changing world

Just over a year ago, I released my report ‘Ageing well in a changing world’External Link , informed by the experiences of almost 5000 Victorians.

Through this report, I identified eight key attributes to ageing well - having a positive attitude, staying in touch with a changing world, having purpose and meaning in life, being able to get around and manage health issues, feeling respected and connected to family and friends, and being safe and secure at home and financially.

While the world has changed and faced many challenges since the ‘Ageing well’ report was released, the key attributes to ageing well continue to provide a helpful framework for what we can do to look after our health and wellbeing as we age. Here are some examples to consider of actions we can take, in a COVIDSafe way, to look after ourselves and those around us.

Having purpose and meaning in life

Finding a new hobby or volunteer opportunity can feel a little daunting, but the personal and community benefits are incredible. Joining activities and giving back builds confidence, keeps our minds and bodies active and can help us create new friendships. There are many virtual and face-to-face ways to get involved. The GoVolunteer websiteExternal Link , an initiative of Volunteering Australia, is a national database of volunteering opportunities that aims to match people with roles. There are also groups like University of the Third AgeExternal Link , Life Activities ClubsExternal Link , ProbusExternal Link and Men’s ShedsExternal Link where you can learn new skills and connect with others. Contact your local councilExternal Link to see what’s available in your local area.

Staying connected to family, friends and society

Senior Victorians surveyed for the ‘Ageing well’ report who said they did not feel lonely were six times more likely to socialise with family or friends. If you are feeling lonely, you aren't alone – people across all generations have really felt the impact of social isolation during the pandemic. A recent report by TelstraExternal Link found 44 per cent of Australians regularly feel lonely, with younger generations being the loneliest age group in society and the most likely to be too embarrassed to admit it.

While our socialising has been curtailed by the pandemic, there are many ways to keep in touch with your loved ones and your community over the phone, online or even through letters if you enjoy writing. Perhaps you could set a goal of reaching out to a new or old friend or a relative once a week, or to strike up a conversation with a neighbour or people you see on your walks? There are also some great free hotlines available for a friendly chat like FriendlineExternal Link on 1800 424 287.

Keeping in touch with a changing world

The importance of technology skills has really ramped up over the past couple of years; who would have thought so many of us would be shopping online, scanning QR codes or using social media and video calls. Over the last year I have had so many fantastic opportunities to meet senior Victorians online, many of whom received training and support from their local council, U3A, library and so many other community organisations. Everyone has different experiences and confidence in using technology. If you would like to build your skills, the friendly staff at our local libraries provide fantastic support or you could even try a course with your local U3AExternal Link . Local libraries can help you to keep up to date with information and to access library devices including computers and printers. If you feel confident with technology, perhaps you could share your skills with others too.

Managing health issues including mental health

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently released the findings of their 2020-21 Patient Experience SurveyExternal Link . While the survey found over 34 per cent of people aged over 65 surveyed accessed telehealth over the last 12 months, some older Australians also delayed or did not see a doctor about their health and wellbeing due to COVID-19, costs or other reasons.

If you’ve been putting off seeing a doctor, or perhaps your health or mobility has declined, it might be time to arrange a check-up. Your GP can recommend any tests or checks you might need based on your health and your age. Book in your third dose COVID-19 vaccineExternal Link if it’s been three or more months since your second dose, and if you have any concerns, speak to your GP.

There are simple things we can do at home to stay healthy and well too, like eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. If you are feeling unwell or not sure if you need medical help, you can also call the Nurse On Call helpline on 1300 60 60 24 for health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and it’s important to take the time to care for your mental health. There are a range of mental health supports available including local Mental Health & Wellbeing HubsExternal Link . If you’re having a difficult time or are feeling overwhelmed, you can call 1300 375 330 to get support through your local Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub. All support is free and available to everyone of all ages right across Victoria, regardless of where you live. If you would like to speak to a trained mental health professional, any time of the day or night, call the Beyond Blue hotline on 1300 22 4636.

More information

Seniors Online - Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

Seniors Online - The 'Great Re-connection' - Volunteering

HealthDirect – Find a health serviceExternal Link – COVID-19 vaccine third doseExternal Link - Mental health resources for older people and seniorsExternal Link

Reviewed 28 January 2024