Loneliness and making new friends in later life

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Kites trip to Kings Park
09 Jun 2017

Loneliness and making new friends in later life

Making new friends can be daunting for anyone but it can be doubly hard if you’ve lost a partner or your mobility has been hampered by ill-health.

Combine that with some of the realities of later life, such as family living further afield and friends passing away, and it makes loneliness one of the biggest challenges for older people.

We know there are growing numbers of older West Australians who are living alone. They find it difficult to meet new people, or simply a reason to get out of the house.  Often people can go days or even weeks without someone to talk to, with only the radio or TV for company.

At Amana Living we understand the impact loneliness can have on a person’s health and wellbeing, and put a big emphasis on creating social opportunities for our residents and clients. 

Our home care clients enjoy a variety of social occasions, either through group outings, one-on-one with our staff, or by helping them catch-up with friends and family.  

This blog will talk you through the social options available at Amana Living and the government support available to fund it.

How May tackled moving to a new city

For the last 15 years we have run the Amana Living Kites program, funded by HACC (Home & Community Care). We organise day trips to destinations including Hillarys, Fremantle, Toodyay, the Swan Valley, Araluen and Kings Park. Outings run Monday to Saturday.

May has been taking part in Kites for the last 15 months since moving to Ridgewood from Eaton. She moved to the city to be closer to her son following the death of her husband, but felt very socially isolated as she didn’t know anyone in her new village.

“I moved to Perth to be closer to my family. They lived nearby but they work and are busy so I didn’t get to see them as often I would have liked. I also found it difficult to meet people being single, and there’s no welcoming committee when you arrive so you don’t get to know your neighbours,” explains May.

“I found out about Amana Living Kites program by ringing The City of Wanneroo who suggested I look into the program. I’ve now been on at least 60 trips and it’s helped put me in touch with people. Our host, Catherine, is lovely – I call her our hostest with the mostest – and our little group gets on very well.”

Since joining Kites, May has rarely missed an outing and says she “longs for her Tuesdays” when she goes on a trip. She’s formed bonds with the other ladies that attend Kites and they even ring each other to discuss the latest TV show – May’s guilty pleasure is Married at First Sight! May also takes part in book-club outings to the local library with Amana Living.

“I’ve enjoyed all the outings, but I’ve especially loved the trips to the Swan River and along the coastline. You see a silvery sea glistening in the sunshine as you drive back to Ridgewood along the coast road. It’s fantastic to get outdoors and the view is magic,” concludes May.

Everyday events can be a social occasion

In addition to formal group outings, such as Kites, everyday events can turn into a social occasion. We have a client who we take grocery shopping each week as one of her greatest pleasures is cooking for her neighbours and family.  This weekly trip to the shops allows her to do something she loves and be surrounded by the people she cares for.

The simple act of providing someone with transport can also make a huge difference. We’ve helped clients to reconnect with old friends, and helped others to continue attending church regularly so they remain a part of their community.

These social occasions can be tailored to the individual’s health and wellbeing. One client was living with advanced dementia and was resistant to leaving home. However, she has built rapport with our staff and now goes out for a drive to the beach and visits the hairdresser.   People living with dementia can also take part in social activities at our day respite clubs.

Funding and where to find out more

Social support can be funded by the Commonwealth Government as part of a home care package. A home care package can help you live at home for as long as possible and can fund a variety of services including personal services like showering, help with preparing meals, equipment to support mobility, plus nursing and clinical care.

To access a home care package, you will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team who will then approve you for one level of home care package. Packages range from low level support with basic care needs (Level 1) to high care needs (Level 4).

Alternatively, there is the Home and Community Care (HACC) program in WA which provides more basic support to live independently. Social activities can be funded by HACC and you will need to be assessed to determine eligibility.

We have home care experts at Amana Living who can help you to navigate the process of obtaining the right support and government funding. If you or a family member would like to learn more, contact the Amana Living customer care team on 1300  26 26 26 or visit www.amanaliving.com.au