Staying social as you get older improves your heart and brain health

Most older Australians want to remain independent and living at home for as long as possible. At St Louis Home Care we support many older South Australians to live a better quality of life at home. We also know that to age with good mental and physical health, you need a strong and supportive social network around you.

You may have heard of the Bluezones which are five locations around the world that have an unusually high number of healthy centenarians. The research conducted by the team at Bluezones discovered that a supportive social structure or “social capital” was a vital factor to ageing with good health.

Everyone has varying degrees of social capital, which is the capacity of our social connections to provide the trust, connection and participation that we desire as humans, or more simply, a sense of belonging. Studies have found that cognitive skills declined 70 percent more slowly in individuals who had frequent social contact and a healthy social network compared to those who had little social contact with others.

And, staying social isn’t just good for the brain, it also reduces the incidence of heart disease. Loneliness, social isolation and a lack of social support can increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke in older Australians.

At St Louis Home Care, we support our clients to live the life they want to live, and to do more of the things they enjoy so that the quality of their life improves. We encourage our clients to stay socially connected. We introduce our clients to each other through our social programs, or if a client prefers, we will also arrange one on one social events. Or we may help our clients reconnect with a hobby they once loved, which allows them to find other like-minded people in their local community with the same interests.

How St Louis is helping our clients develop stronger social networks

Marlene, 82

Marlene was always a shy person throughout her marriage while raising her family. When there was a social occasion to attend, she was uncomfortable about meeting new people and starting a conversation.

As the years went on, Marlene spent a lot of time at home alone, and her family were growing increasingly concerned about her becoming isolated. With the help and gentle perseverance of our Home Care team, she agreed to attend one of our social events. Her first activity was a bus trip with a stop for lunch at one of our favourite pubs, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Now Marlene comes to chair exercise classes, our day trips as well as other activities she chooses from our social calendar. She loves going out, meeting and talking with people and making new friends. Her outlook has changed and she feels much happier.

Related article: You’re never too old to begin socialising and making new friends

Anita, 78

Anita has always valued her friendships and local community in Victor Harbor. After her husband passed away, Anita had her own health concerns to manage but was not going to let them prevent her from doing the things she always enjoyed.

Her home care package helped her to maintain her social activities, participating in art and craft, community events, volunteer work and enjoying social outings with her friends. She’s created a support network around her and feels safe and comfortable living at home on her own, knowing that help is only a phone call away.

“Home care has prevented me from getting depressed and miserable, because it’s helped me stay connected to my friends. I have made many new friends through my home care service.”

Related article: How home care supports Anita to continue enjoying her community

George, 88

From a housebound lifestyle because of health conditions, George ventured out again to discover new interests with a caring home care support team behind him. He met new people, became more tech savvy and played the piano and the ukulele to our home care team and visiting clients.

These are things he never thought he would do.

Related article: “St Louis opened up my world” - how home care helped George do things he never thought he would

Social programs for older Australians who want to connect with others

Our home care lifestyle coordinators are passionate about ensuring our clients stay socially connected, knowing the positive difference this makes to their overall quality of life. We help our clients develop a more supportive social network while being sensitive to their needs and working with them at the pace they are comfortable with.

Every month we publish social calendars for Adelaide and Victor Harbor which you can find here. Social events include bus trips, high teas, lunches, hydrotherapy classes, cooking classes and more. We aim to offer a wide variety of social events for men and women.

Please call St Louis Adelaide on 8332 0950 or St Louis Victor Harbor on 8552 1481 if you would like to find out more about these events or to book your spot. We look forward to seeing you at a future event!

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