Ariah leads the way for young people to combat social isolation in the elderly

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At just 24 years old, Ariah Goodluck is leading the way for young people to help combat social isolation and connect with society’s older generation.

The young electrician recently joined IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme, a friendship program that links volunteer visitors with people living in aged care facilities or who receive in-home care throughout the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

Ariah’s enthusiasm is infectious, and several of her friends and family members are also planning to volunteer in the program, which aims to tackle social isolation in older people.

The television show Old People’s Home for Teenagers inspired Ariah to join the program, with the content hitting close to home as she regularly observes elderly family members losing friends and family and attending funerals.

While she hasn’t yet made her first visit, Ariah said she was looking forward to forging a new friendship and benefiting from the wisdom the older generation has to offer.

“I saw the difference [the friendships] made on the show and… it’d be nice to bring a bit of light to people,” she said.

Ariah is encouraging others to get involved in the Community Visitors Scheme, with friends, her mother and even her 93-year-old grandmother keen to join. Her grandmother, who is part of her inspiration for taking part in the scheme, is teaching her to play cards in preparation for her visits once she is matched with a participant.

Ariah said she feels it’s important to reduce loneliness in older people, and by taking part in the scheme she hopes to allow them to feel like they have family again.

“For the small amount of time you can give, you can make a big impact in someone’s life,” she said.

Scheme coordinator Heather Hinsbey said she would love to see more young people involved in the Community Visitors Scheme, as they have different skills and life experiences to bring to the table, including the ability to share knowledge of technology.

Heather said: “We ask that you visit a minimum of once a fortnight spending time doing something you both enjoy.”

“You might like to go for short walks outside, play card games, help to write letters or even just have a cuppa and a chat,” she said.

IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme celebrates 30 years this year and is a valuable community volunteering opportunity that has been improving the lives of our isolated older people. Volunteer opportunities are available in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin.

Interested in volunteering? Call Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.

Feeling lonely, particularly for the older people in our community, is no small matter - it can have a significant impact on one’s wellbeing.

According to the World Health Organisation, ‘a large body of research shows that social isolation and loneliness have a serious impact on older people’s physical and mental health, quality of life, and their longevity’.

WHO state, ‘the effect of social isolation and loneliness on mortality is comparable to that of other well-established risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity’. 

For many older people in our community experiencing social isolation can be combated by volunteers with the Community Visitor Scheme.

When volunteering with Community Visitor Scheme at IMPACT Community Services, you can spend at least an hour each fortnight visiting people in aged care facilities, or whom have home care packages.

This friendship program is about enriching lives, so it’s important that you are both enjoying the time you spend together. Some of the activities IMPACT’s volunteers do are playing cards and board games, listening to music, going for a short walk, having a cuppa and a chat or even letter writing.

People may be experiencing social isolation for myriad of reasons, from little contact with friends or relatives, to feeling isolated from their culture and heritage, and mobility issues that prevent them from taking part in social or leisure activities.

CVS volunteers can improve help people feel less lonely.

While no one is immune from feelings of loneliness, we can do our part to make friends, family and older community members feel a little less alone by volunteering.

IMPACT has been delivering the CVS in the region for nearly 30 years, helping thousands of people stay connected and find new friends.

Quality social connections play a huge role in our wellbeing, and by volunteering with CVS you could be making a positive difference in the life of someone else, and yourself.

IMPACT has volunteering opportunities Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers, and Gin Gin.

To find out more about volunteering at IMPACT, phone Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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