Connect with the people around you

Family, friends and neighbours. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections and social networks is important for wellbeing and will support and enrich you every day.

Our social relationships are important

For promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages. Research has also found that ‘happy’ people have stronger social relationships than less happy people. This may be because social networks promote a sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Loneliness can lead to feelings of sadness and depression. Even meeting with a neighbour for a cup of tea, or contacting a friend we haven’t seen for a while can lift our mood and make us feel good.

Good mental wellbeing

This is important because we all want to feel good and get the most from our lives. Warwickshire Wellbeing Hubs are available in local communities across Warwickshire. They offer support on a range of issues that may affect an individual’s wellbeing. If you wish to connect with others and find out more about ways to enhance your wellbeing, or if you are feeling stressed, worried or low, please get in touch with your local Hub.

Warwickshire Wellbeing Hubs

Seven Wellbeing Hubs spread across the county provide:

  • information
  • a listening ear
  • practical support
  • sign-posting

We offer a range of services that individuals can access directly or be signposted to by their Doctor, Practice Nurse or Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) practitioner. We commission the Wellbeing Hub services as part of our commitment to enhancing mental health and wellbeing.

Loneliness and socialising

Over a third of people aged 65+ feel lonely according to research from Age UK.

Loneliness can have a huge impact on both physical and mental health. As well as depression, persistent loneliness can also cause stress. Loneliness makes it harder to control or notice, habits and behaviour which can lead to health problems. Lonely older adults drink more alcohol, have unhealthier diets and take less exercise.

The internet is a vital tool in tackling isolation and loneliness but face to face contact is very important too. Taking the first step can be difficult, but the long term benefits can be enormous. If you are lonely, find out about older people’s forums, partnerships, befriending services and groups.

To help combat loneliness try to get out. Even walking to the local shops if you are able, will bring you into contact with people and help boost your confidence.

The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community are more likely to be single and live alone in older life. They are less likely to have family support and can be more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness.

Why you can become lonely:

  • the loss of a loved one
  • physical limitations like illness or poor mobility can affect a person’s ability to go out and meet people
  • redundancy or retirement can lead to people becoming more isolated, as they adjust to new roles
  • sensory impairment can be a barrier to social contact as many people are concerned they will not be able to communicate
  • incontinence can also be an issue for some people and make them fear to leave the house
  • older gay and lesbian people have experienced fear about ‘coming out’ or have never done so
  • Financial issues can lead to isolation. Make an appointment with your Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to.

Your senses

Having control over your life is important and adjusting well to change is central to your psychological wellbeing. Loss of eyesight or hearing, if not dealt with, can have a huge impact on your life or how you connect with others.

Hearing

More than 50% of people over 60 will be affected by some type of hearing loss. Older people can feel vulnerable, lonely and isolated and can wait many years before seeking help. It can be better to find out about hearing aids sooner rather than later as getting used to amplified sound is harder if you’ve already got used to a ‘quieter world’.

If you think you may have some hearing problems you should visit your doctor as soon as possible, who will do some simple tests and may refer you.

Sight

Your eyes are one of your most valuable senses yet as you age your eyesight can be one of the first things you notice deteriorating. Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of preventable blindness. People over 60 are eligible for a free NHS sight test every two years, and every year if they are over 70.

Doctor says

If you visit your doctor about your hearing they may refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist or (particularly if you are over 60) an Audiologist. They will test you further to determine the cause of your hearing loss and work with you to find the best possible treatment.

Optician says

If you visit your optician about your eyesight they will check for glaucoma, which usually starts by affecting your side vision (peripheral vision).You often don’t notice this as your brain compensates for a large amount of this part of your vision being affected.

If glaucoma isn’t caught and treated early it can go on to cause fairly serious ‘tunnel vision’. Eventually, without treatment, it will also affect your central vision.

Sexual health

Desiring sex and having sexual relationships does not go away as you get older. Connecting in this way gives you comfort and pleasure.

Older people can get sexually transmitted infections (STIs) too. It is easy to forget if you are in a new relationship and new to the whole dating experience that you need protection.

Older people are less likely to use condoms because they don’t consider themselves to be at risk but they are just as likely to get an STI as a younger person. The most common STIs are:

  • herpes
  • genital warts
  • chlamydia
  • HIV

As you age your immune system becomes less effective and your risk of getting an STI increases.

Your changing body

Enjoying sex as you get older means recognising how the ageing process can affect the body and working around that. You may also be suffering from sexual problems related to age. Men may find it more difficult to get and maintain an erection, while women find lubrication a problem.

Need advice?

You can get all tests and treatments at a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. GP surgeries and some pharmacies may also provide testing for some infections. If they cannot provide the help or advice you need, they will be able to provide details of the nearest service that can.

The health benefits of sex

There are many reasons why regular sex is good for you. In women, it can increase blood oestrogen levels, helping to protect against coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, and helps keep the pelvic floor muscles toned, reducing the risk of incontinence.

In men, sex releases hormones which help strengthen bones and muscles, protects against heart disease and may relieve congestion in the prostate gland. For both sexes, it is a great stress reliever, induces sleep and is fun.