Globally loneliness in on the rise. Last year the UK appointed its first Minister for Loneliness. Closer to home, the Government has invested $46.1 million into the national community visitors scheme, which encourages local community organisations across the country to combat social isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness is a result of a population not having access to meaningful relationships and connections. The average person spends 80 percent of their waking hours with the company of others and for most people, time with others is preferred to time being spent alone. Humans are social beings, and we rely on social connections to thrive. As we age and move into retirement, our social interactions may wane.
Ageing communities are most susceptible to isolation. A lack of mobility could mean that getting out and about is not as easy as it used to be, and loss of loved ones can contribute to the feelings of loneliness. Soon a quarter of our population will be over 65, and it is vital that this population is connected and active to ensure their mental health and wellbeing is thriving.
“Up to 40 percent of aged care residents have no family members or friends who visit them. I have recently visited a home in WA where residents had no visitors for a year” Minister for Aged Care Ken Watt stated.
Feeling lonely has consequences on our health and overall wellbeing; in fact, there is a direct link with loneliness and health outcomes. A person who perceives themselves as having less access to relationships, also finds physical and mental tasks more difficult. This is because people with less access to others can’t rely on group safety to “share the load” of life’s challenges.
Being lonely has a direct correlation with physiological effects according to a report from Cambridge. Feeling lonely negatively impacts brain process, ability to handle cognitive tasks, control of inflammation in the body, ability to regulate the stress and severity of mental health symptoms.
It’s not just the ageing community that is seeking companionship. The ‘shut out’ report released in 2009 by the National Disability and Carer Council acknowledged that too many people with disabilities are isolated and lonely. Ten years on, in a new NDIS landscape, people with disabilities have greater flexibility to create teams of people to support them with different aspects of their life. For many, one big area is helping to build connections and engage with the community.
How do we solve the loneliness epidemic?
The Mable platform can help connect you with an independent support worker from your communityt. We have independent workers who have different skills and interests. Perhaps you would like an independent worker that shares your passion for piano, or can take you to an art class. To get started post a job add the qualities you are looking for in an independent support worker along with any needs you may have.
You can find inspiration from some of our favourite requests that have come in our community!