R U OK? launched a campaign this week to connect senior Australians through the 'Gift of Conversation'.
"Your Natter Matters", is backed by the Stockland CARE Foundation and calls on members of our older generation to use their life experience to support each other through life's ups and downs.
"R U OK? want to empower our Seniors to reach out to one another and give the gift of conversation," said R U OK? Campaign Director, Gennie Sheer. "A meaningful 'natter' can positively impact feelings of self-worth and self-esteem and make a big difference to someone who might be struggling with life."
Research has found people engaged with the R U OK? campaign are up to six times more likely to reach out to someone who might be troubled. However, those aged 65 and older are currently less likely to have engaged with the R U OK? message. "Your Natter Matters" aims to increase their confidence levels and reinforce to them the value of simply asking 'Are you OK?' and lending a listening ear.
After the age of 65, some people will experience mental health challenges for the first time and not know how or where to find support. Isolation, grief, changing circumstances and concern about their independence can all increase risk factors.
"During the development of the campaign people shared with us how the support of friends helped them through some difficult times," said Ms Sheer. "Having someone recognise they were doing it tough and, rather than turn away, check in on them and be there to listen was something that made a big difference."
The signs it's time for an R U OK? conversation can be subtle. There might be changes in verbal or non-verbal behaviour. Someone might tell you they're having difficulty filling their days or they might be withdrawing from social situations.
"If we know someone is going through a significant life change that's when we should make a conscious effort to connect," said Ms Sheer.
The campaign taps into the power of connecting through conversation. Printed and digital resources have been developed with the support and guidance of seniors, advocates, researchers and those working with older Australians.
"The campaign recognises the breadth of life experience older adults can draw on to support those around them who might be struggling," said Kirrily Lord, the general manager, Retirement Living Operations. "Seniors might be reluctant to reach out so it's important their peers know when and how to start a conversation that could change a life."
The Gift of Conversation also underpins the R U OK? Christmas campaign featuring social media, television and radio messages voiced by actor Sam Neill.
'Your Natter Matters: Ask R U OK?' Learn how to ask at www.ruok.org.au