Dorothea, 80, and her husband Dan, 85, left some good friends behind when they retired to Brisbane three years ago.
“We managed a caravan park just south of Mackay, so were constantly surrounded by people,” said Dorothea. “We moved down here to be close to our children and grandchildren, which is just wonderful. But we no longer drive, which can be isolating. And I missed the joy of having my friends around me.”
Dorothea combatted her loneliness with weekly visits to Centacare Amelia House Social and Community Hub at Coorparoo. In three years, she hasn’t missed a day. “We have some good laughs, I love the chats and the gossip. And we support each other,” said Dorothea.
The importance of social connection in shaping wellbeing has been studied extensively. A 2018 Relationships Australia report found 1 in 10 Australians felt socially isolated and 1 in 6 felt lonely. Risk factors relating to loneliness have been found to be equivalent to substance abuse, obesity and smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Dorothea has found an all-important sense of belonging at Centacare, describing the Coorparoo hub as ‘her second home’. The group of 15-20 usually head out on a Wednesday. The bus picks them up from their homes and they visit different places, which is usually decided by vote.
Recently they visited Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers but on this wet Wednesday, they enjoy indoor games, which promote memory and cognition and a delicious looking hot lunch. Dorothea joins her friends Edna and Janet for a game of scrabble in the courtyard. Their laughter can be heard from the front yard.
While she comes for the company, Dorothea gets her hair and nails done when the beautician and hairdresser come once a month. She also sees a podiatrist at the hub.
“It’s a great service,” said Dorothea. “Last week Centacare organised for a physiotherapist to visit me at home. He did an assessment to see if I was up to doing the exercise classes they have here.”
Dorothea and her friends at the hub pay $10 a day for their services. This includes all meals, exercise programs and activities at the hub as well as bus pick up and drop off.
If you’re over the age of 65 and want to feel more connected in your local community, find out more about our social and community support activities.