Retirement Living News & Stories

The Importance of Social Connection for Australian Men as they Age

22 March 2023

As men age, they face a myriad of challenges that can affect their overall health and wellbeing. From physical changes to social isolation and loneliness, these issues can have a significant impact on mental and physical health. In this article, we will explore the importance of social connection for Australian men as they age, the rise of men’s sheds as a way to decrease isolation and loneliness, and the ways in which social connection can help men reduce unhealthy behaviours and improve mental health.

The Importance of social connection

Social connection is a fundamental aspect of human nature. It drives us to seek out meaningful relationships, form communities, and find our place in the world. As men age, however, social connection can become more difficult to maintain. Retirement, the loss of loved ones, and physical limitations can all impact a man’s ability to maintain social connections. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can have significant negative effects on a man’s health and wellbeing.
Research has shown that social isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Socially isolated older adults are also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours such as overeating, smoking, and excessive drinking. Conversely, studies have shown that increased socialisation can improve overall health outcomes, leading to lower rates of chronic disease and a longer lifespan.

Men’s Sheds and the Rise of Community Spaces

Men’s sheds are community spaces that have become increasingly popular in Australia in recent years as a way to combat isolation and loneliness among men. These spaces provide a place for men to come together, share stories, and work on projects. The concept originated in Australia, where men’s sheds have become a vital part of many communities, providing a safe space for men to socialise and form meaningful connections.
Men’s sheds offer a range of activities, including woodworking, metalworking, gardening, and even cooking. The focus is on building community and fostering connections between men of all ages. These spaces offer a sense of purpose, enabling men to work on meaningful projects and feel a sense of accomplishment. They also provide a supportive environment where men can share their experiences and seek advice from their peers.
In recent years, men’s sheds have gained popularity in other parts of the world, including the UK and Canada. However, in Australia, they remain a unique and integral part of many communities, providing a much-needed sense of community and social connection for men.

Social connection and unhealthy behaviours

Studies have shown that social connection can provide a sense of accountability, enabling men to make healthier choices. For example, having a regular walking, bowling or golf partner can motivate a man to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet. It can also provide a sense of purpose, leading men to engage in activities that are meaningful and fulfilling.
In addition, social connection can provide a source of emotional support. Men who have strong friendships are more likely to seek help when they are struggling with mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. This, in turn, can lead to better outcomes, as men are more likely to seek out professional help and receive the support they need.
In Australia, the importance of social connection for men as they age cannot be overstated. With a culture that places a high value on mateship and community, we need to recognise the importance of social connection for men as they age. We should strive to create more opportunities for men to connect with others and build meaningful relationships. At Kalyra, we offer a number of ways for men to connect with men’s sheds, sports, organised social activities and more. For more information, please contact our Village Managers.

*Please note, this article contains general advice only and may not be relevant to your personal situation. If you have any concern for your physical or mental health, please talk to your Doctor, Counsellor or medical professional.