What Are Social Connections?
While ‘social connectedness’ can be defined as a feeling of belonging to a social group or feeling connected to other people, ‘social connections’ are the relationships that you have with people around you, such as family, friends and neighbours. As social connectedness has been identified as a core psychological need, a lack of social connections can impact negatively on both your mental health and physical health. In fact, many studies show that a lack of social connection can have a more detrimental impact on a person’s physical health than obesity, smoking and physical inactivity.
Due to the link between social connectedness and mental and physical health, feeling connected to other people is important, especially for people who feel isolated due to age, location or disability. As such, social isolation may be particularly dangerous for older adults as exposure to risk factors such as loneliness, depression and social withdrawal tends to increase as we age, participate less in work activities and live in smaller households. Older people who live alone are, therefore, at greater risk of experiencing a lack of social connectedness which could negatively impact their wellbeing.
Fostering social connections through social prescribing and innovative initiatives such as Feros Care’s Virtual Social Centre, Let’s Get Technical, and In Great Company help older Australians connect with community-based supports and activities. These community supports can help to overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improve both mental and physical health outcomes for participants.