Redlands seniors have community support to fight loneliness

The Australian population is ageing at a higher rate than ever before. Over the 20 years, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 12.0% to 15.3% (www.abs.gov.au).

 Older adults face special health challenges, both physical and psychological. Loneliness and social isolation top the list of main concerns for the seniors. Loneliness may cause serious health risks such as depression, high blood pressure, diminished immunity, sleep disorders, obesity, dementia and anxiety. Senior Australians are even more at risk of feeling lonely as loved ones depart and social connections disappear.

 Thankfully a solution to this growing problem can be found within our local community. STAR Community Services- a not-for-profit organisation servicing Redlands elderly for over 20 years, offers a range of services to the elderly to live independently, enjoy social connections and engage with the wider community. STAR aged care services include companionship, support with home and garden maintenance, fitness programs, transport and Home Care Packages.

 

Ninety-One year old Beryl Patterson enjoys the comforts of her own home with the support of a STAR carer. “Since the death of my husband, STAR and the support of my family has made it possible to remain in my own home, in familiar surroundings. Each Friday Bev and I either stay in my home and have coffee and a chat or Bev will drive me to a local café where we both enjoy morning tea. Later, I am able talk to my family about my visits and outings. This gives me different things to talk to my family about.”

STAR’s Companion Support Program provides friendship and companionship to the elderly by matching aged residents of the community with companion carers. STAR volunteers and staff make regular visits to people who are feeling secluded or are at risk of social isolation or loneliness. The Companionship Program recently received a boost from the Redlands City Council in the form of a $10,000 grant.

 

Kaylene Forbes, a companionship volunteer with STAR, visits two clients every week, who also live independently in their own homes. She provides company over coffee, assistance with grocery shopping and accompanies them to their appointments. “What we do is very important. For some of these people we may be the only person they see all week. They are lonely. We offer them a chance to get out of the house, to do something different.” 

“Our services are completely focused on supporting the elderly to live independently and enjoy their senior years. Whether it’s a hand with their weekly shopping, a chat over coffee, spring cleaning their homes or even specialised care such as dementia- we are here to ensure they receive the care they need,” said Colleen Johnston, STAR Care Coordinator.

 Fay Finnerty from Ormiston says her life has changed dramatically since joining STAR.

“I am a much happier person. My days are now filled with fitness classes and outings. I

have met some very nice people.”

 While aging is an inevitable part of life, loneliness need not be part of it. Mental health of older adults can be improved through promoting active and healthy ageing (source: World Health Organisation). Good health physical and mental health enables older Australians to continue contributing socially, culturally and economically to the wider community.

 STAR offers free information sessions and one-on-one consultations for those aged 65 or over to find out more about aged care services. Contact 3821 6699 or visit www.starcommunityservices.org.au

The Australian Government’s My Aged Care phone line and website provides information and helps seniors and their families access aged care services available nationally. Go to www.myagedcare.gov.au or call 1800 200 422.