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Social Support Groups: Ageing with new friends

on Monday, September 3, 2018

Having a regular event to go to every week does a lot for someone’s mental health. Especially for the elderly who feel isolated.

They go through quite unique problems: their friends are long gone, their ailing health leaves them less mobile to continue their social obligations or they just don’t feel connected to their community anymore.

Migrants who don’t have English as a first language can suffer more acute loneliness and detachment for a few reasons. They are used to celebrating cultural events, religious holidays, or making local cuisine. But as they age, their community shrinks, these rituals become less frequent and participation more difficult.

Local support groups also struggle to understand the cultural idiosyncrasies of their multicultural clients.

That’s why Fronditha Care’s Social Support Groups are so special.

They are a regular meeting place for elderly people of a Greek background where they can follow a program in their native tongue.

The participants are encouraged to expand their social circle, participate in lots of activities, laugh and relax over a meal or a coffee.

It’s also a way to keep traditions alive. For Greek men, retirement is spent sipping on a Greek coffee, playing backgammon and chatting at their regular “kafenio” (or café) in the village. That is replicated at the Social Support Groups.

For the females, just following an embroidery class might have them swapping stories of how many socks they’ve mended for their families.

Above all, it encourages the groups to express their thoughts and feelings in an inclusive environment.

Currently four Social Support Groups operate in and around Melbourne, with a unique program of activities each year.

All activities are designed to promote physical and emotional wellbeing while encouraging independence and active ageing.

It is also a chance for the participants’ carers to have some well-deserved and much needed respite.

The program is also complimented by the organisation’s Community Visitation Scheme, where trained volunteers visit the elderly in their own homes to provide companionship.

That bounty of care is what Fronditha Care hopes to continue offering the community. For those interested in the projects, contact 03 9552 4100.