The Importance of Social Connection To Wellbeing

5 Minute Read

Did you know that a lack of social connection is of greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure? Connection is vital.

The Importance of Social Connection To Wellbeing
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions

The importance of social connection to wellbeing, over and above these other health concerns, was made clear in a 1988 landmark study[1]

On watching the ABC’s ground-breaking shows - Old People’s Homes for 4-year Olds and the more recent Old People’s Home for Teenagers[2] – it’s clear that loneliness has a profound impact on the quality of life and health of older Australians.

Connection with others is vital.

Social connectedness can be defined as the experience of belonging to a social relationship or network.

It is your subjective feeling of being connected to others and having strong bonds.

This is not a matter of how many friends you have.

Scientific evidence shows that having this connection improves your physical health, and in turn your mental and emotional wellbeing. Social connection brings:

  • Increased longevity (a 50% chance of an increase!)

  • A strengthened immune system

  • Faster recovery from illness

  • Lower levels of anxiety and depression

  • Positive feedback, and with that higher self-esteem, greater empathy, and more trust and cooperation with others.


Sydney psychologist Dr Julie Bajic Smith of Wise Care has dedicated her career to the subject. After creating several award-winning programs for older adults entering residential care, she released a book on enhancing emotional wellbeing in residential aged care[3].

In a white paper[4] and subsequent presentation[5] recently commissioned by Catholic Health Care, Dr Bajic Smith shared strategies on boosting social connection.

Combining those strategies and my own experience, here are eight simple ways of weaving social connection into a loved one’s day.

  1. Make phone calls. Encourage your loved one to call relatives and friends and send photos or text messages to them via their smartphone.

  2. Engage with service providers. Encourage the cleaner and gardener to stop and have a chat while making their visits.

  3. Engage Carers for socialising. Organise in-home carers to visit for social engagement; speak to the home care provider and ask for a carer with similar interests to your loved one, be it Scrabble, cards, gardening, baking/ cooking or walking.

  4. Stay active. Encourage your loved one to keeping physically active. Having a small dog to walk is ideal as this invariably leads to conversations with others while out walking. Walking around the block at a regular hour and finding somewhere to sit near the front door or gardening at the front of the house encourages conversations with passers-by.

  5. Observe life. The simple act of watching the world around you as you sit near the front door or as you sit on the back veranda watching birdlife or nature is a meditative connecting activity.

  6. Check-in with neighbours. Collecting the daily newspaper and sharing it with neighbours is a simple but valuable check in, with the added opportunity of conversation on the headlines.

  7. Head out for regular services. Going for a regular haircut and seeing your regular barber or hairdresser brings connection.

  8. Engage in hobbies. Keeping up hobbies is important. If they have outgrown a hobby, physically or financially, find another that they can maintain. Encourage the enjoyment of music and art and make use of the many free activities available to seniors through the local library, art gallery, tertiary institution or Council.


Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

With small steps of connecting, more wonderful and heart-warming experiences can arise.

Trust me, they do!



Seeking companionship for an isolated loved one? Please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
- Contact Danielle - For An Impartial & Confidential Conversation



[1] House, J.S., Landis, K.R., & Umberson, D (1988) Social Relationships and Health, Science 29 Jul 1988, 241, 4865, pp. 540-545 DOI: 10.1126/science.3399889

[2] ABC iview: Old People's Homes For Teenagers

[3] Bajic Smith, J. (2020) Beyond the Reluctant Move: A Practical Approach to Emotional Wellbeing in Residential Aged Care Facilities, Ultimate World Publishing

[4] Catholic Healthcare White Paper: Improving Wellbeing For Seniors Through Social Connection

[5] Catholic Healthcare & Wise Care: Improving Wellbeing For Seniors Through Social Connection



Danielle Robertson

Danielle Robertson

Working with you and your support network to get the right care outcomes for you and your loved ones. Danielle Robertson is founder and CEO of DR Care Solutions, offering aged care and disability care concierge services and expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place. Danielle's experience in the Australian care sector spans over three and a half decades. Now that's a lot of experience, wisdom and networks!