Loneliness is a growing epidemic impacting seniors across Australia with one in four themselves as lonely.
Community organisation Inclusee is encouraging seniors who are feeling isolated or lonely to visit their new website (inclusee.org,au) to access the power of connection.
"Our service has hundreds of participants and volunteers across 19 regions who have had thousands of hours of connection, laughter, education and conversation together," said Rachael Cook, CEO of Inclusee, a community organisation designed to combat loneliness particularly in the lives of senior Australians in remote and regional areas.
"Loneliness can greatly impact physical health, mental health, and overall wellbeing."
Inclusee is calling for participants who are over the age of 65, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the age of 50, who feel they are at risk of social isolation and loneliness.
The service has been in operation for nearly 50 years, connecting qualified volunteers with older Australians who are in need of social interaction through face-to-face visits, telephone and digital catch ups.
"The programs are absolutely fantastic," said Jan Wilson, 79. "The idea of having someone to connect with every week and having a laugh is just the best feeling. And it's like they are sitting there right beside you."
Ms Cook said the Inclusee programs are free for participants, though some eligibility conditions apply.
"Volunteers get partnered with participants who have similar interests, and they meet at regular intervals over video. We provide this service to a broad and diverse number of people around Australia and respect the individuality and culture of all people who participate in our programs," Ms Cook said.
"While there will never be a substitute for one-on-one, person-to-person contact, simple technologies are opening up exciting prospects for the future of care.
"We use video chat and a user-friendly mobile tablet to keep connected and create enjoyable experiences related to the interests of the individual. The device is pre-configured with bespoke software designed to easily facilitate video chatting for those not already confident with mobile technology."
Inclusee launched in 1973 under its original name of Golden Years Senior Centre and was recently known as Aurous Ltd. It is funded by various government grants including the Commonwealth Home Support Program and the Federal Community Visitors Scheme throughout the eastern states of Australia.
"We offer a virtual community centre that is open 8am-5pm weekdays where participants bring a cuppa, connect with our volunteers and other participants and talk about everything and anything that they wish," Ms Cook said.
Inclusee has a range of online clubs and interest groups from learning to shop online to bingo, men's shed, Greek culture club, and caters for travel enthusiasts and trivia buffs too.
- You can register to participate online at www.inclusee.org.au or call on 1800-287-687.
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