Loneliness and social isolation can be significant issues for older people, particularly during the Christmas period.

Research indicates between 7-12 per cent of seniors experience loneliness – and this figure may be higher due to under-reporting.

Life events that are common as we enter our 60s, such as retiring from the workforce or losing a loved one, may leave you vulnerable to loneliness.

An easy and effective way to combat this is to get involved in your local community. To help you achieve this the Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking a new project that tackles loneliness.

Called Strengthening Seniors’ Inclusion and Participation in Local Communities (SSIP), the project is in response to Commissioner for Senior Victorians Gerard Mansour’s report Ageing is Everyone’s Business.

SSIP will ensure you know what’s going on in your local community and provide opportunities to get involved.

“Many seniors have told me how significantly challenging it is personally once they become isolated and lonely,” Gerard says.

“This program is about finding practical ways to re-connect older people with some of the many opportunities that exist in communities across Victoria."

The project is targeting the places where you can connect with others in your area, such as community groups, sporting clubs, University of the Third Age (U3A), neighbourhood houses and local libraries.

Seven councils are already involved and actively creating age-friendly activities. The seven local areas are:

  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • City of Latrobe
  • City of Whittlesea
  • Shire of Mornington Peninsula 
  • City of Bendigo and Shire of Loddon (including small towns near Bendigo)
  • City of Maribyrnong
  • City of Frankston.

Some of the activities that are being trialled include:

  • Pairing older volunteers with school-age children to help them with their homework.
  • Teaming with neighbourhood houses and local councils to provide technology skills.
  • Working with libraries to get older people involved with activities.
  • Working with U3A groups to help newcomers join.
  • Working with seniors groups to be more welcoming to new members.
  • Movement classes and walking groups.
  • Movies and trivia.
  • Wet and dry aquatic events.

To find out more, contact any of the seven councils mentioned above.