DO CURRENT POLICIES RISK SOCIAL ISOLATION OF OLDER PEOPLE?
COTA Victoria has launched its latest working paper: Working Paper_Social Isolation.
The paper can be downloaded here: Working Paper_Social Isolation
On February 26, Dr Cathy Mead, Chair of COTA Victoria’s Policy Council launched the first COTA VIC Working Paper on Social Isolation: its impact on the mental health and wellbeing of older Victorians, which summarises our understanding of how being socially isolated in later life can affect mental health.
COTA Victoria began this work with the question: do current policies affecting older people, both at Federal and State level, create greater risks of social isolation and mental health issues for older people? Older people tell us they value, and want to maintain, their participation in family, community and social spheres.
There is limited data on the proportion of older people in Australia who experience social isolation. However, one study in Perth found that 7% of people over the age of 65 reported severe loneliness, with higher levels of loneliness reported by people who were single, people who lived alone, and people whose self-reported health was poor.
It is well-known that lacking friends and social networks is bad for physical health. The Paper outlines research which is now suggesting that being socially isolated can also affect mental health, increasing the risk of experiencing mental illnesses such as dementia, depression and anxiety.
COTA Victoria argues that maintaining opportunities for social participation should be a key factor when policy affecting older people is framed. The experience of social isolation requires a multi-faceted, holistic policy response. We hope the paper will start a conversation and that more will be done to build an age-friendly community where older people are able to stay connected.
The Working Paper is available at the COTA Victoria website: Working Paper_Social Isolation.
For further information, please contact Anne Pate on 03 9655 2123.