Five hundred seniors filled the auditorium at The Juniors in Kingsford to discover the benefits of social connection for successful ageing on 12 November 2014. The forum, “Connecting for Successful Ageing”, was a joint project of the Aged Care Psychiatry Service, Eastern Suburbs Mental Health Service and CHeBA, which focused on how older people can stay socially connected.
Current research shows that older people who are socially isolated are at greater risk of physical and mental health problems. Socialising and group activities for older people not only prevents loneliness, but positively influences general health and well-being.
“The health consequences of social isolation for older people are significant. Researchers have reported that lack of social connectedness is associated with disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol, altered gene expression in immune cells, increased depression and overall wellbeing,” explained Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, Co-Director of CHeBA, who chaired the event.
According to Professor Brodaty, depression as a result of social isolation is also associated with cognitive decline. “As such, it is essential that as well as being physically and mentally active, we stay socially engaged and connected as we age,” he said.
Acclaimed social researcher and author Hugh Mackay gave the key note address at the forum. Discussing his new book, The Art of Belonging, Mr Mackay focused on the importance of connecting with communities.
“Doing a daily crossword is all very well, but if you really want to stay alert and alive – stay connected. We are social creatures by nature and what we most need is each other – face-to-face,” Mr Mackay said.
Other speakers included Peggy Roberts – 2013 NSW Health Volunteer of the Year, Dr Carmelle Peisah – UNSW Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dr Judy Chen – Senior Physiotherapist, Prince of Wales Hospital and Nan Bosler – President, Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association. The panel presented on topics ranging from connecting and technology to mind-body connectedness. Five hundred people stood up to participate in Tai Chi exercises with Judy Chen who outlined the history and benefits of this form of exercise.
Sponsored by Genworth, the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Mental Health Service and The Juniors, the forum proved to be an enormous success.
All presentations from the Forum can be accessed via the Aged Care Psychiatry Service’s website.
CHeBA will be holding a Better Brain. Better Life public form at Rockdale Town Hall in March 2015. For more information on CHeBA's public forums please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (02) 9382 3398.