COTA Australia’s holiday call to combat loneliness among older Australians

With the holiday season around the corner, COTA Australia – the leading advocacy organisation for older people – is calling on all Australians to help combat loneliness by connecting with their older neighbours, friends, and family in their communities.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer, Patricia Sparrow, said that while the festive season can be a time of joy, it is a time where feelings of isolation and loneliness can become more pronounced for some older Australians.

“According to Aged Care Research and Industry Innovation (ARIIA), around one in five older Australians face social isolation, and for those in residential aged care, this rate rises to one in three. Chronic loneliness is tied to poor physical and mental health outcomes.

Ms. Sparrow emphasised the importance of reaching out to have conversations with loved ones about getting a booster shot this holiday season. According to a report from the Grattan Institute released November 2023, only a quarter of Australians

aged over 75 have been vaccinated for COVID in the six months to Novembers, and less than four in ten people in aged care.

“Check in on your loved ones and have those conversations about the importance of staying vaccinated. If your older relatives are behind on their vaccine schedule, help them reach out to a doctor, or if you’re unsure yourself, you can call 1800 022 222 if for advice on COVID-19.

“When you do spend time with an older person remember the COVID safe basics – wash your hands, practise physical distancing, stay home if you’re unwell, stay up to date on your vaccinations and wear a mask in a crowded place. If you are visiting someone in an aged care home you may also need to test before visiting, wear masks, and opt for outdoor spaces whenever possible.

“If you are exhibiting symptoms, opt for a phone call to connect with older loved ones. It’s all about keeping the balance between safety and connection.

“Simple gestures can make all the difference when it comes to combatting loneliness and improving the health of your loved ones.

“This Christmas, take a moment to reach out to your older loved ones – it can truly make all the difference,” urged Sparrow.

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