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Maintaining friendships after a dementia diagnosis can spur feelings of joy and self-worth

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/colleen-whyte-1281976">Colleen Whyte</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/brock-university-1340">Brock University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/darla-fortune-1363967">Darla Fortune</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/concordia-university-1183">Concordia University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-genoe-1363968">Rebecca Genoe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a></em></p> <p>What would our lives be like if we could no longer depend on our most cherished friendships? The people who know us best, who have been there through our ups and downs, and share a history with us?</p> <p>For many people living with dementia, this is a reality. Over 500,000 Canadians <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/what-dementia/dementia-numbers-canada">are currently living with dementia</a>, and a diagnosis often leads to <a href="https://www.alzscot.org/news/friendship-and-dementia">a loss of friendships</a> and social opportunities.</p> <p>The reactions of friends greatly affect the experience of someone living with dementia. When friends distance themselves because they don’t know what to say or presume they no longer know how to interact with their friend, a person with dementia can experience <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275353356_Friendships_for_People_Living_with_Dementia_in_Long-Term_Care">feelings of isolation and loneliness</a>.</p> <p>When people living with dementia can depend on their friends, they continue to enjoy meaningful leisure activities, experience <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afx186">feelings of joy and self-worth</a>, and see themselves as <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/take-action/become-dementia-friendly/meaningful-engagement-people-living-dementia">valued members of their social circles</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://dementiaandfriendship.ca/">Our research</a> had us interview friends together, asking them to share tips and strategies for navigating dementia. We heard moving stories of deepened bonds of friendship, genuine acceptance and the joy of simply being together.</p> <h2>Adapting to changes</h2> <p>Our research allowed us to speak with people who shared a 70-year friendship and couldn’t imagine life without each other. We learned that for some, a neighbourhood walk together was an opportunity to say a quick hello and how a weekly trip to the pub enabled some friends to connect and re-connect in a familiar space.</p> <p>People living with dementia and their friends <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/S0714980821000301">may adapt to changes</a> brought about by the diagnosis in several ways. For example, they may prioritize their friendship by setting aside time for regular phone calls and visits. They may alter the way they think about the friendship by being accepting of the changes. They may also use practical strategies, like providing reminders for plans, and offering additional support when spending time together.</p> <p>Friends of individuals living with dementia may seek ways to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301220980898">continue enjoying meaningful time together</a>. Sometimes this involves identifying activities that are comfortable and familiar. It may also involve providing direction and encouragement to support the continuation of enjoyable experiences, such as visiting a favourite restaurant.</p> <p>For some, additional comfort may come from hanging out as a group because there is extra support available if needed.</p> <h2>Open and honest communication</h2> <p>Open and honest communication is key to maintaining any friendship and becomes particularly important following a diagnosis of dementia. Yet, that may be the biggest challenge.</p> <p>Below are <a href="https://dementiaandfriendship.ca/">some questions that friends might find helpful</a> to ask over a cup of coffee, on a walk or in a quiet, shared moment:</p> <ul> <li>What do you value about our friendship? Can I tell you what our friendship means to me?</li> <li>What is one thing I do that makes you laugh? Here’s something you do that makes me laugh…</li> <li>How can we make sure we maintain our friendship (i.e., talk on the phone, over the internet, go for coffee)? How often do you want to connect? How do we need to change our time together? What can stay the same?</li> <li>How can we support each other to continue enjoying the leisure activities that are meaningful to us?</li> <li>What are the best times and days to plan activities (i.e., morning, afternoon, weekday, weekend)? Are there exceptions?</li> <li>Do we need to schedule something in advance (need time to prepare, or get more rest the day before) or can we be spontaneous?</li> <li>Where do you feel safe and able to be yourself?</li> <li>When we are in public and you need me to step in for you, how will I know? What is “our” signal?</li> <li>What do I do if I notice you’re starting to make decisions that are not like you?</li> <li>Can I ask you these same questions in a few weeks?</li> </ul> <p>The need for friendship <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/im-living-dementia/living-well-dementia/staying-socially-connected">does not diminish with age</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/happiness-in-world/201312/the-true-meaning-friendship">friendships continue to deeply enrich our lives</a>.</p> <p>Given that a dementia diagnosis often puts individuals at an increased risk of social isolation, we must pay careful attention to understanding ways to ensure that friends remain engaged with their networks in personal and meaningful ways.</p> <p>The first step is to trust in the friendship and begin to explore how it can be sustained over time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/187038/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/colleen-whyte-1281976"><em>Colleen Whyte</em></a><em>, Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/brock-university-1340">Brock University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/darla-fortune-1363967">Darla Fortune</a>, Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/concordia-university-1183">Concordia University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-genoe-1363968">Rebecca Genoe</a>, Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/maintaining-friendships-after-a-dementia-diagnosis-can-spur-feelings-of-joy-and-self-worth-187038">original article</a>.</em></p>

Relationships

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Embracing friendships in adulthood: A guide to making meaningful connections

<p>Navigating the landscape of friendship in adulthood might initially appear daunting, but the profound impact that it can have on our mental well-being is huge. Not only do friendships foster a sense of camaraderie, but they nurture feelings of belonging and acceptance.</p> <p>Important at every life stage, it’s not uncommon to encounter challenges in building new friendships as we age and embark on differing paths. However, Jacqui Manning, Resident Psychologist at Connected Women, a female-driven organisation dedicated to cultivating friendships for women over 50, is here to impart her invaluable tips and tricks, paving the way for a friend-finding journey that unfolds with ease and fulfilment.</p> <p>“Forming new friendships in adulthood may take a little more time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be scary,” Jacqui explains. “Approaching the prospect of making a friend with genuine curiosity and a shared interest can transform the experience into an exciting journey rather than a daunting task. Focus on common ground, be open-minded, and embrace the adventure of getting to know someone new. By emphasising shared interests and creating a comfortable, judgment-free space, the process of making a friend becomes a welcoming exploration rather than an intimidating challenge."</p> <p><strong>Stay Open</strong> </p> <p>It can be a slippery slope once we let our thoughts spiral into the possibility of rejection. Instead of worrying, why not consider all the opportunities to grow a connection? </p> <p>Jacqui explains, “As we age, the energy we have to make friends can dwindle, making it natural to withdraw into the comfort of our own shell. However, the need for connection is as strong as ever. This serves as an important reminder to be open. Deeper connections won’t have the chance to form if we keep one another at arm’s length so engage in conversations about hobbies and discuss any goals or anxieties openly, as it is through this openness that a profound connection is likely to be forged.</p> <p><strong>Find Your Community </strong></p> <p>Finding a group of new friends could be as simple as enjoying your favourite pastime. Like attracts like, and finding a like-minded group who share similar interests could be the key to unlocking more meaningful relationships. </p> <p>“Whether it’s joining a book club, cooking class, yoga, or bonding over a game of cards, whatever your passion may be, start by kicking off a conversation with someone who participates in a shared activity. While exploring a new hobby is fantastic, consider turning your attention closer to home and connecting with those who already share your interests,” Jacqui adds. </p> <p><strong>Take Note</strong></p> <p>Long-lasting friendships can fill gaps in our life we never knew existed. </p> <p>As Jacqui explains, “Take note of how supported you currently feel and if there are any areas that may need a little nudge. Reflection will invariably help to narrow down the type of friendship you may be seeking and allow you to better understand your own needs. Through self-reflection, you gain invaluable insights that not only pinpoint the specific type of friendship you might be yearning for but also enhance your understanding of your own emotional requirements. This conscious exploration becomes a compass, guiding you toward the relationships that can truly fulfil and enrich your life.”</p> <p>The journey of making friendships in adulthood is not without its challenges, but the rewards are immeasurable. As Jacqui reminds us, being open to new connections, actively engaging in shared interests, and conducting self-reflection are key elements in fostering meaningful relationships. </p> <p>“The path to forming long-lasting bonds involves stepping out of our comfort zones, whether by joining a new group, pursuing shared activities, or simply initiating conversations. Remember, the richness of these connections lies not just in the joy of shared experiences but also in the support and understanding they provide,” Jacqui concludes,</p> <p>Friendships in adulthood are well worth investing in, providing fulfilment, support, and the delight of shared moments. So, embrace the adventure, take note of your needs, and savour the delight of building connections that truly enrich your life.</p> <p><em>Ready to try your hand at building new friendships? Visit <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connectedwomen.net </a></em></p> <p><em><strong>About Connected Women </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Jacqui Manning is the Resident Psychologist at Connected Women, bringing with her over two decades of experience. Founded in 2022, Connected Women facilitates friendships for women over 50 through a range of online and in-person events. With the rising epidemic of loneliness impacting Australians now more than ever, Connected Women aims to provide a community in which women can feel free to be themselves, connect with like-minded women and build life-long friendships. Launched in Perth, Western Australia, Connected Women now also operates in New South Wales and Victoria, with plans to grow its network to Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia in the coming year. </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>With a small monthly membership fee, women can join Connected Women events, share, and connect over areas of interest, and connect with women in their local areas to arrange meet-ups. Whether members prefer big events with lots of action and adventure, or quiet meetups around the local neighbourhood, Connected Women is committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for women to find their feet and build new friendships in a space that feels most comfortable to them.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Relationships

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"It's still there": Karl Stefanovic breaks silence on feud with Michael Clarke

<p>Karl Stefanovic has broken his silence on the status of his friendship with Michael Clarke, almost one year after their infamous brawl made headlines. </p> <p>In December last year while on holiday in Noosa, the <em>Today</em> host and the former Aussie cricketer came to blows as Clarke was at the centre of a blazing row with his ex-girlfriend Jade Yarbrough and her brother-in-law Stefanovic in a public park. </p> <p>The expletive-ridden fight made headlines, with both men keeping relatively quiet about what eventuated from the argument. </p> <p>Now, Stefanovic has broken his silence on <em>The Kyle and Jackie O Show</em>, as Kyle Sandilands asked what the status of their friendship was. </p> <p>"Have you reconciled with Michael Clarke yet, your personal self, regardless of the sisters [Jade and Jasmine Yarbrough]?" Kyle asked Karl live on air.</p> <p>"Kyle, it's like a sticker. You rip it off but it's still there," Karl said, revealing peace had not yet been brokered between the pair.</p> <p>"There's still a bit of stick," Jackie O said, and Karl confirmed she was correct.</p> <p>"Is that like one of those stickers they put on your car when you're parked in a No Standing spot and you can't get that bastard off, when you try to pick away?" Kyle asked.</p> <p>"Yeah. That is really, really deep," Karl agreed with a laugh. </p> <p>Karl's admission comes just weeks after Michael Clarke <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/michael-clarke-breaks-silence-on-that-stoush-in-noosa-with-karl-stefanovic" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told his side</a> of the story on <em>A Current Affair</em> for the first time. </p> <p>In the interview with Ally Langdon, <span style="caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;">Clarke began by acknowledging the complexities of handling personal matters in the public eye. </span></p> <p><span style="caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;">He explained, "A lot of people are involved, you know, there's other families, there's friends. </span>I think it's always important that you do your best to try and respect that as well."</p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji';">While dodging questions about the specifics of the argument, Clarke admitted to making mistakes, saying, "I've made, ah, I've made some mistakes, I haven't made mistakes. I've spoken about them, I haven't spoken about them."</p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji';">"For me, again, I think the most important thing is that you get out of bed every day and try and do your best. I'm not here to blame anyone, I'm not here to blame me. I'm here to learn. I think that's the key; we're all still learning, we're all still trying our best, and yeah, relationships are tough."</p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji';"><em>Image credits: Today / Getty Images </em></p>

TV

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5 signs your friend is struggling with serious debt

<p>Money is always going to be a sensitive topic, and part of the reason for this is the fact that so many people willingly suffer in silence. But if you notice the warning signs, you have to take action. Here are five signs your friend is struggling with serious debt.</p> <p><strong>1. They keep cancelling plans</strong></p> <p>Whether you’re talking about dinner, drinks or even just the occasional coffee, if your friend keeps cancelling plans (particularly if they didn’t have a reputation for doing so in the past) that could be a sign that they’re struggling with their finances.</p> <p><strong>2. Unopened bills</strong></p> <p>If you’re visiting your friend’s home and you notice a pile of unopened bills, this is a classic sign of money troubles. Generally these bills are left unopened because the recipient does not want to see what’s inside, or deal with the monetary consequences.</p> <p><strong>3. Sudden changes in behaviour</strong></p> <p>Does your friend seem more fidgety that usual? Do they become cagey or defensive when money matters are mentioned? Are they bitter when discussing other people’s spending habits? This could indicate stress about their own individual financial situation.</p> <p><strong>4. Ignoring calls and knocks on the door</strong></p> <p>If you’ve been staying at your friend’s house and noticed a knock on the door or phone that’s been left unanswered on multiple occasions this could be a very bad sign. Often this is out of fear of dealing with a debt collector who could be on the other side.</p> <p><strong>5. Not adapting to changes in circumstances very well</strong></p> <p>Lifestyle changes generally come with a change in financial circumstances, but if you’ve noticed a sign that your friend is living in the same way that may be a sign that they’re ignoring the demands of their new situation and not putting themselves in a position to succeed.</p> <p><strong>What can I do?</strong></p> <p>Experts recommend taking the following steps if you know a friend who is struggling to deal with debt. That being said, sometimes just providing someone to talk to about it can make all the difference.</p> <ul> <li>Encourage them to talk to their credit provider and discuss payment options.</li> <li>Talk about applying or a hardship variation to help make payments.</li> <li>Direct them to a financial counselling service.</li> <li>Encourage them to take up free legal advice.</li> </ul> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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6 tips to keep the peace on holidays with a friend

<p>Even the best of friends can come to blow when they’re on the road. Avoid conflict with your travel buddy by following these tips.</p> <p><strong>1. Plan ahead</strong></p> <p>Before you set foot on that plane, you need to make absolutely sure that you are both having the holiday you want. If one person loves to spend their days hiking through the forest, they won’t appreciate being made to lie on the beach all day. Or vice versa. There’s always going to be an element of compromise, so plan a trip that appeals to both of you. Otherwise you’ll spend the whole time at loggerheads.</p> <p><strong>2. Agree on a budget</strong></p> <p>Money always causes trouble and that can be amplified when you’re on the road. Even if you are keeping your finances separate while travelling, it’s important to agree on a general budget. One person might be happy to splash out on fancy restaurants every night while the other prefers to fill up on budget street food. You’ll need to find a happy medium that suits both of your wallets and it’s easier to do it before you depart, rather than starting a fight when you’re both hungry.</p> <p><strong>3. Pack separate bags</strong></p> <p>You’ll thank us in the end. It might sound like a great idea to minimise the load and just take one bag, but everyone needs a bit of their own space. Having your own bag means there’s no conflict over who has packed too much or who is a messy folder, plus you both get lots of space for souvenirs. It also prevents one person from getting stuck carrying the load every time.</p> <p><strong>4. Be flexible</strong></p> <p>It’s always handy to have a schedule, but you don’t have to stick to it like you’re on a military expedition. Choices will have to made at numerous points in your trip, so discuss them with your buddy and be prepared to be flexible. You can’t both have things exactly your own way the whole time, so it’s easier to be open to alternative options rather than digging in.</p> <p><strong>5. Spend some time apart</strong></p> <p>Travelling together doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking minute together. Time apart is healthy and gives each person the chance to do things they want to do. One of you can go to the museums, the other can hit the shops, and you can swap stories over dinner.</p> <p><strong>6. Let it go</strong></p> <p>It’s a holiday, so have some fun. Try not to pick silly fights and, if you do end up in one, don’t hang on to it. If things go wrong it’s easier in the long run to laugh about it than apportion blame. No one’s here to keep score. And if you feel things getting a little tense, talk about it before it goes too far.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Tips

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How friendship changes as the years advance

<p>"You know the sort of thing you fantasise about when you are standing having a . . .?" Thus began an opening sally in a recent conversation. Such a beginning reveals a thoroughly satisfying degree of intimacy, acceptance, self-disclosure and a very easy familiarity.</p> <p>We found it extremely heart-warming to be its recipients, as we both were recently from a (clearly) close friend. It set me wondering about friendship, closeness, nurturance, and, as usual, the meaning of life in general.</p> <p>Singer/humourist Greg Tamblyn put it nicely: "Friends are people who know you really well and like you anyway." A dictionary type of definition of friendship runs something like 'Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection' and liking between two (or more) people." And plenty of work has been done on the topic by researchers who might well have begun with puzzlement about their own friendship patterns.</p> <p>What is important, as was definitely demonstrated by our friend, is self-disclosure. But there has to be some reciprocity here. If I tell a potential friend about my unsightly and ill-positioned warts or my liking for kippers and jam I expect some similarly horrifying self-disclosure in return. Beyond self-disclosure and reciprocity, there comes a swag of characteristics that one would like to see in a written reference (preferably about oneself). Unconditional support, acceptance, loyalty and trust and all of this to be expressed openly.</p> <p>At this point, you might well be thinking that true friendship is a bit hard to come by. It gets worse. Researchers have shown that absolutely crucial in the development of friendship is that the potential friend supports what they call one's social identity.</p> <p>Roughly speaking this means that we like our friends to confirm how we see ourselves (tall, handsome, even-handed, mellow etc rather than the reality of a short somewhat indifferent appearance, biased and a touch grumpy).</p> <p>This support of what might well be our deluded view of self is thought to boost our self-esteem. It might also be leading us even further up the garden path, so the occasional cold shower of social reality could be useful. However, more research has demonstrated that there are four ways to maintain a bond of friendship once it has been made. More self-disclosure, more supportiveness, a fair amount of contact and a relatively unfailing positivity. All of which takes a bit of doing.</p> <p>Some interesting questions have not yet been answered by those who study friendship rather than courting it. To put the perennial late-night-after-a-few-drinks question - can there be cross-gender friendships without sex? The jury remains out on this, but it is perhaps something that becomes less problematic with age. This reminds me of what I intended to be the main point here and that is that we become better at the whole business of friendship in later years.</p> <p>We become more picky and tend to have fewer but deeper friendships that we can count on. Much of the mere acquaintanceship of earlier years disappear in favour of an increase in all of those sterling qualities already described. However, the clever Oliver Burkeman, in his Guardian column recently drew attention to a problem of friendship in the modern world; namely, the number of friends.</p> <p>It used to be that with developments in qualifications, jobs, marriage and so on people would change communities, leave old friends behind and make new ones, probably keeping the overall number reasonably constant. Modern communication means that we can easily keep all of our friends, new ones simply adding to the number.</p> <p>So, our friends might be less densely linked these days. And that is not so good, because friends that are physically close to us will probably talk about us more often, something which Burkeman believes strengthens the general social fabric. I can think of instances in which it might well weaken it.</p> <p>In spite of all this musing, it might be better not to think too much about how to make friends. The title of a popular book years ago was How to make friends and influence people. That's the problem; think about these things too much and it all seems to be a bit contrived and manipulative and that changes everything.</p> <p>George Carlin put it very well. "One good reason to only maintain a small circle of friends is that three out of every four murders are committed by people who know the victim."</p> <p>Thinking of this, Jim Hayes suggested that "A good friend will help you move. But a best friend will help you move a body."</p> <p>Garry Shandling should have the final word though, with "My friends tell me that I have an intimacy problem. But they don't really know me."</p> <p><em style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>Written by Ken Strongman. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span>.</strong></a></em></p>

Mind

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4 crucial ways to keep old friendships strong

<p>As you age it can be quite common to have fewer friends than you did in your twenties or thirties. Family commitments, distance and health issues can all play a part in the changes to your friendships.</p> <p>So it’s more important than ever to nurture and develop the relationships that you do have.</p> <p><strong>1. Keep it real</strong></p> <p>Instead of texting or emailing, try to make a point of calling a friend to catch up or ideally meeting up regularly. Nothing beats face to face communication for strengthening bonds. If they’re too far away, try to arrange a time to meet up in the future so that you both have something to look forward to. Why not send them a letter with an invitation – it’s much more personal than an email.</p> <p><strong>2. Always be honest</strong></p> <p>If a friend is bothering you or you just have a lot going on and can’t catch up – always just be honest with them. Saying something like ‘I have a lot on my plate this month, can we catch up another time’ is a lot better than ignoring phone calls and being aloof. And remember that nobody is a mind reader, so tell them how you are feeling if something is not quite right.</p> <p><strong>3. Be there to offer help when needed</strong></p> <p>If a friend is sick, bereaved, or just seems down – be the first one to step in and offer a hand. Dropping off a meal or a cake, offering to walk their dog or collecting some groceries for them is a great help that will be appreciated. Know that they would do the same for you if the roles were reversed.</p> <p><strong>4. Keep a diary</strong></p> <p>Sometimes friends can get frustrated if they feel that they are doing all the organising for catch ups. Why not keep a diary and make notes for yourself for when you should contact someone to say hello or to plan a weekend away. It will stop you from double booking yourself, and will also help you keep track of birthdays and special anniversaries.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Relationships

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Friends are key to keeping fit

<p>Find yourself losing motivation with your workouts? An exercise buddy can be the best way to kick-start your fitness program and put the fun back into workouts. Here’s why you need an exercise buddy.</p> <p><strong>Get motivated</strong></p> <p>A partner can provide the motivation you need to get out and get active. When you’re tempted to stay in bed or flop on the couch, the influence of an exercise buddy will encourage you to change your mind – even if it’s just so you don’t disappoint them. Numerous studies have shown that having a partner increases the likelihood that you will stick to a fitness routine.</p> <p><strong>Monitor your progress</strong></p> <p>Sometimes it can be hard to see how far you’ve come if you’re exercising alone. Often it takes an independent party to see when you’ve gained strength or flexibility, toned up or increased your stamina. A buddy will help you recognise your achievements and celebrate them.</p> <p><strong>Try new things</strong></p> <p>It can be intimidating to go into a new fitness class or activity on your own. You might feel self conscious in front of others or not want to try that new machine without a bit of moral support. An exercise buddy takes the pressure off and brings a social element to the experience, so you can laugh at your mistakes or ask for help without judgment.</p> <p><strong>Be competitive</strong></p> <p>We’re not suggesting that your workouts need to be fights to the death, but having a buddy will inspire you to run that little bit further or push that little bit harder. You can both keep track of your progress against the other and work harder to keep improving. Because no one likes to fall behind.</p> <p><strong>Safety first</strong></p> <p>Exercising à deux is safer for everyone. It can be hard to listen to your own body and you might not be able to tell when something isn’t right. A buddy gives you a spotter when you’re lifting weights, someone to tell you if a pose looks like it’s placing too much strain in one area or just someone to help you home if you twist your ankle on a run. Another set of eyes helps prevent you exercising with bad form and makes sure you’re getting the most out of it.</p> <p><strong>Laugh a little</strong></p> <p>Above all, an exercise buddy makes working out more fun. You can catch up on gossip while walking, laugh at your novice yoga moves or grab a juice after swimming a few laps. And when something is fun you’re more likely to keep doing it. So buddy up!</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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Terminally-ill rugby player carried across marathon finish line by his best mate

<p>There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd when best friends Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield crossed the finish line of the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon.</p> <p>The two Leeds Rhinos players have been raising money and awareness for people with Motor Neurone Disease since Burrow’s 2019 diagnosis, with the two raising an impressive total in the millions.</p> <p>And now, the pair have raised spirits and warmed hearts with Sinfield’s act at the end of their Leeds race, when he picked Burrow up from his chair and carried him over the finishing line. Before that, Sinfield had been pushing Burrow’s chair for 26.2 miles (42.2 km). </p> <p>The moment was met with cheering and applause as the wo concluded their marathon just after the 4 hour 22 minute mark, both from those who were there to witness it in person and from those who saw footage later when it circulated online. </p> <p>One Twitter user even went on to dub Burrow an “absolute gem of a human”, while another was certain that they were a “pair of absolute heroes”. </p> <p>“What a mate! Unbelievable in a world full of cr*p at the moment there are some genuinely lovely moments. These lads have been into battle together on the pitch for club and country,” one wrote. “It’s choked me up, I’m not going to lie.”</p> <p>“A bunch of legends,” someone else declared. “I’ve properly welled up watching this, this is what friendship is, to the ends of the earth and back.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Beautiful.</p> <p>Kevin Sinfield carried Rob Burrow over the finish line at the end of the first Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon 🥹 <a href="https://t.co/JFdd9XGgV4">pic.twitter.com/JFdd9XGgV4</a></p> <p>— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) <a href="https://twitter.com/BBCSport/status/1657736670458916865?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 14, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Prior to the event, Sinfield had spoken about the race to <em>The Sun</em>, and its 12,500 reported participants, as well as the thousands lining the streets to watch, and what it meant to be undertaking the marathon together. </p> <p>“Even if it was just Rob and I, we’d have a great time,” he said, “there’s no better way to do it than with your mate. The fact people want to share in it and do their own little bit is incredible.</p> <p>“This will be with mates, for mates and alongside mates, absolutely. Look across the world at big cities where marathons are run, there’s nothing like this.</p> <p>“We’ve not done any training. We ran a 10km together last July and that’s part of the challenge, doing something neither of us have done before. The unknown adds to the fun of it.</p> <p>“He’s in a custom-made chair but it could be a bumpy ride. I’ll try and find him the safest, comfiest route but if there are hills, there are hills. If it rains, it rains.”</p> <p>And as Burrow himself said to <em>The Guardian</em>, when asked about the seven marathons in seven days that Sinfield had run on behalf of Burrow, his family, and their fight against MND, “we all need a friend like Kevin.” </p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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The power of friendship in retirement

<p><em><strong>Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant, supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live!</strong></em></p> <p>When we think about staying healthy in retirement, we often think about becoming more active, eating better and ensuring a good night’s sleep. But there’s another powerful antidote and it doesn’t require active wear, perspiration or watching calorie intake. Did you know that maintaining strong friendships in retirement can have a significant and positive impact on your wellbeing?</p> <p>As we age we are going to become more dependent on others. Not only may we become less mobile, but amongst your group of friends it is almost invariable that there will be debilitating illness, divorce, death, job loss and other major life challenges. It is times like this that it is so critical to have a strong friendship circle to surround us - people who can help us to weather the tough times. These friends will rally around you in times of need, intuitively knowing what needs doing and making things more bearable. Good friends will do exactly what you know you would do for them if the roles were reversed. Not only that, but these friends will celebrate your successes too!</p> <p><strong>What are the health impacts of loneliness?</strong></p> <p>The workplace is a hot-bed of human interaction – there is always a morning tea, someone to do the coffee run with and meetings to be held, and so as we step away from the workforce, our social networks tend to decrease. The research shows that loneliness is linked to a number of health issues including poor sleep patterns, increased prevalence of stress hormones, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and accelerated cognitive decline. In turn, these can contribute to a lowered life expectancy and depression. The lower quality of life associated with these health issues is not what people envisage when they think about a fulfilling and enjoyable retirement.</p> <p><em>Loneliness is not a symptom of failure - that you are no longer relevant. The feeling is simply a reminder to reach other to others.</em></p> <p>The challenge is that life has never been as busy as it is now in the 21<sup>st</sup> century. But stop for a moment. Don't be so busy working hard and saving for retirement that you let the fun things fall by the wayside, such as weekend fishing trips, ladies nights at the theatre, or barefoot bowls. How 'golden' will those years be if you no longer have people to share them with?</p> <p><strong>Do you need to re-connect with friends?</strong></p> <p>Fortunately there are simple things you can do right now to reinvigorate the important friendships in your life.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Make that call!</span></p> <p>Who is that one person that you have been meaning to catch-up with for ages, and what can you do to connect with them today? Go on, nothing beats memory sharing and a deep belly laugh!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Take the lead!</span></p> <p>Rather than wait for catch-ups to be organised, step in and connect with the people you hold near and dear. Just be mindful to set yourself up for success. For example, rather than trying to go out for dinner as a group once a week, make it once a month (or even once a quarter) so that it doesn’t seem like a burden and something that everyone will look forward to.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Let them know</span></p> <p>Don’t be afraid to tell your friends that you care. Let them know how much you appreciate them and why. And do it often!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Choose your friends wisely</span></p> <p>One of the great things that comes with age is caring less what other people think. As such, choose which friendships you cultivate mindfully. Spend time with the people who light you up, not drain your energy or take advantage of you.</p> <p>As the saying goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. The power of friendship is real. Is your inner circle full of people that you know will be there for you when you need them (and vice versa)?</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Retirement Life

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The secret to long-lasting friendships

<p>As we grow older, friendships can become even more important to us as children leave home, and careers wind back. Friendships provide us with a sense of community, companionship, and support. But maintaining these relationships can be challenging, especially as we face new life stages and circumstances. </p> <p>Phoebe Adams is the dedicated founder of <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net/">Connected Women</a>, an organisation that facilitates friendships for women over 50 through a range of online and in-person events. Here, Phoebe shares her expert advice on the secret to long-lasting friendships.</p> <p>“As the head of Connected Women, a big part of my job is helping women over 50 to connect and build meaningful relationships. I’m so proud to be able to provide a safe and welcoming space for women to come together, share experiences, and form lasting friendships.”</p> <p>According to Phoebe, the secret to long-lasting friendships is all about mutual respect, communication, and shared experiences. "When you have a strong foundation built on these three things, your friendships will thrive," she explains.</p> <p>So, how can you build that foundation with your own friends? Phoebe recommends the following tips:</p> <p><strong>Be Honest:</strong> Good communication is key to any healthy relationship. Make sure you're always honest with your friends, even when it's difficult. If you're upset or angry about something they may have said or done, talk to them about it. It's better to address issues early on before they become bigger problems and having a difficult conversation becomes.</p> <p><strong>Show Up:</strong> It's not enough to just be there for your friends when things are going well. True friendship means showing up when things are tough. Whether they need a listening ear or a helping hand, be there for your friends through thick and thin.</p> <p>Often one of the hardest things is knowing what to say when something difficult has happened in a friend’s life. Commonly we tend to stand back because we don’t know what to say or how to act, but it’s in these times of adversity that showing up, saying nothing and simply being present is the best possible gift you can give your friend. </p> <p><strong>Make Memories:</strong> Shared experiences are the building blocks of any strong friendship. Make time for fun outings and adventures with your friends. These memories will keep you connected and give you something to look back on fondly.</p> <p>Phoebe also notes that it's important to be selective about the friendships you choose to maintain. "Not all friendships are created equal, some relationships may no longer serve you, and that's ok. It's important to prioritise the friendships that bring you joy and support you in your life."</p> <p>So, how do you know which friendships to keep? Phoebe suggests asking yourself the following questions:</p> <ul> <li>Does this person uplift me and make me feel good about myself?</li> <li>Do we have shared values and interests?</li> <li>Do they respect my boundaries and support my goals?</li> <li>Have we had meaningful experiences together?</li> </ul> <p>If the answer to these questions is yes, then it's likely a friendship worth investing in.</p> <p>Nurturing and maintaining long-lasting friendships is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. By focusing on communication, respect, and shared experiences, we can strengthen our already-formed friendships and create meaningful connections.</p> <p>Remember our time is finite, so focus on friendships that bring you joy and support your growth, and don't be afraid to let go of those that no longer serve you. Taking action to invest in your friendships can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life, so seize the opportunity and reap the rewards!</p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/04/Phoebe-headshot.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><strong><em>Phoebe Adams is the founder of Connected Women, an organisation providing a community for women over 50 to connect with each other and build meaningful friendships. With a rapidly growing community in Perth, Sydney, Wollongong, and Melbourne, Connected Women provides a safe and welcoming space for women to come together and share experiences. To learn more about the organisation and how you can get involved, visit <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connectedwomen.net</a>.</em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Relationships

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Friendships may help protect women from health conditions in older age

<p dir="ltr">Human connection may, in fact, help protect women from chronic health conditions in older age, according to a Queensland-led study. </p> <p dir="ltr">The University of Queensland researchers tracked more than 7,600 Australian women aged between 45 and 50 for two decades as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.</p> <p dir="ltr">The study went as follows: Every three years, women filled out a questionnaire, rating their levels of satisfaction with a range of relationships, including partners, family, friends, work colleagues and any other social connections.</p> <p dir="ltr">Data also collected if they had been diagnosed with two or more of 11 chronic health conditions.</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">High blood pressure</li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Heart disease</li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Stroke </li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease </li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Asthma </li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Arthritis</li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Cancer</li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Depression</li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Anxiety </li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Osteoporosis</li> <li dir="ltr" role="presentation">Diabetes</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">The researchers found 58.3 per cent of the women had developed more than one chronic disease during the 20 years of monitoring, from 1996 to 2016.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those with the lowest relationship satisfaction scores had the highest odds of having multiple chronic diseases.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, make friends and keep them around because it may just prevent a serious illness.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-4f8bbe2a-7fff-fc6b-fccb-0ad9a3a01ee3"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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6 ways to make friends when you’re 60-plus

<p>When you’re a kid, it’s so easy to make friends. Basically you see another person your age and walk up to them and start playing. But once you reach a certain age, it’s not so easy to just walk up to people you don’t know and form a friendship.</p> <p>Things can be especially difficult if you’ve had a partner for a long time and then later find yourself left on your own. The idea of putting yourself out there to make new pals seems daunting and a little scary.</p> <p>But before you get so desperate for someone to see a movie with that you resort to putting an ad in the local paper, try some of our ideas below. Who knows, you might just meet your new best mate.</p> <p><strong>1. Group travel</strong></p> <p>Organised group travel is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who have a passion for travel. It’s also a terrific way to see the world, as you have your accommodation and transport already organised – plus there’s no worry about missing any of the great attractions.</p> <p>Whether you jump on a bus, a boat or a train, you are sure to find some people that you click with. Once the tour is over, offer to trade email addresses or phone numbers to keep in touch with those people that you hit it off with. You could even suggest ideas for the next adventure.</p> <p><strong>2. Volunteering</strong></p> <p>Another great way to meet people is to offer your time to a charity or an organisation that you feel passionate about. It could be a one-off event (such as handing out flyers for a political party) or even just a day a month where you help out in a soup kitchen.  Start with something as simple as “Have you been volunteering here for long?” and let the conversation flow naturally.</p> <p><strong>3. Wine tours</strong></p> <p>If you are passionate about wine, or just keen to learn more, sign up for an organised winery tour. It could be one winery or a whole region, but either way there are generally small to medium sized groups that you can join for a day or a weekend.</p> <p>Sharing an experience like this where you are learning new skills is a great conversation starter. Asking something as simple as “Do you prefer the pinot or the shiraz?” can really get the ball rolling with a fellow wine fan.</p> <p><strong>4. Photography Courses</strong></p> <p>Whether you’re improving your skills with your digital SLR camera, or just wanting to learn how to take better snaps on your Smartphone – there really are so many options for photography classes these days.</p> <p>Often photography classes are held outdoors, in a park or by the sea, so it is a great way to learn and meet new people in a natural environment. Why not suggest to someone interesting that you meet for a photo shoot at another location next time such as a lighthouse or rainforest.</p> <p><strong>5. Book clubs</strong></p> <p>What better way to connect with new people than by discussing a book that you have all read. Even if people have different ideas, it’s a great way to get an insight into whether you have common tastes and interests depending on how they felt about the novel.</p> <p>The next step is to suggest meeting someone that you’re keen to talk to more for a coffee after the class.</p> <p><strong>6. Cooking classes</strong></p> <p>Even the great cooks among us can still learn a lot from a one-off cooking class. It could be to brush up on your baking skills or to learn the basics of a new cuisine such as Mexican or Thai. Sharing a kitchen with people and then sitting down to eat is a great icebreaker.</p> <p>You’ve got so much to talk about – the process of cooking, any issues you had, any advice you might need to perfect your soufflé for next time, and then of course the food itself. If you really hit it off with someone you could invite them over for afternoon tea or a casual meal one evening.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Why friendships could be good for your gut

<p dir="ltr">As well as being good for our mental health, it seems that having plenty of friends can be good for the health of our gut, a new study says.</p> <p dir="ltr">Scientists looked at a group of Rhesus Macaques living on Cayo Santiago, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, and found that the more sociable primate had more beneficial bacteria and less harmful bacteria than less social monkeys.</p> <p dir="ltr">To measure just how social the monkeys were, the researchers measured the time each monkey spent grooming or being groomed by others, as well as the number of grooming partners they had.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Macaques are highly social animals and grooming is their main way of making and maintaining relationships, so grooming provides a good indicator of social interactions,” Dr Kali Watson, a cognitive scientist at the University of Colorado, said.</p> <p dir="ltr">They also collected faecal samples from the monkeys and performed DNA sequencing to measure the composition and diversity of gut microbes that were present.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Engagement in social interactions was positively related to the abundance of certain gut microbes with beneficial immunological functions, and negatively related to the abundance of potentially pathogenic members of the microbiota,” Dr Philip Burnet, who researches the influence of the gut microbiome on brain health at the University of Oxford, said.</p> <p dir="ltr">They found that the most sociable monkeys had higher levels of protective bacteria, including <em>Faecalibacterium</em>, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and <em>Prevotella</em>, which has been associated with better immunity against pathogens and anti-inflammatory effects.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-0dd63408-7fff-3ddf-b8be-419de6dceec8"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, bacteria such as <em>Streptococcus</em>, which cause diseases such as strep throat and pneumonia, were found in greater abundance in the less social monkeys.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/12/monkey-guts1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Frontiers Press</em></p> <p dir="ltr">As for why this happens, the researchers proposed that it may be to do with the transmission of bacteria through physical contact, such as grooming.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The relationship between social behaviour and microbial abundances may be the direct result of social transmission of microbes, for example through grooming,” Dr Katerina Johnson, a researcher at the University of Oxford, said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It could also be an indirect effect, as monkeys with fewer friends may be more stressed, which then affects the abundance of these microbes. </p> <p dir="ltr">“As well as behaviour influencing the microbiome, we also know it is a reciprocal relationship, whereby the microbiome can in turn affect the brain and behaviour.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The millions of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that live in our gut - and make up our <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/mind/your-gut-s-second-brain-may-have-evolved-before-your-head-s-brain">gut microbiome</a> - have become an area of interest for researchers, particularly when it comes to digestive health and the influence it has on our nervous system, in a relationship called the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/mind/how-gut-bacteria-could-affect-your-mental-health">‘gut-brain axis’</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Previous studies have shown that the levels of different species of these organisms in our guts have been linked to depression, schizophrenia and even autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease and colitis. The gut even creates neurotransmitters, hormones and other molecules the brain needs.</p> <p dir="ltr">With this study finding that being social can influence our gut, which in turn can influence our health more generally, it shows just how crucial social interactions are for our health.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Robin Dunbar, a psychology professor at the University of Oxford, said: “As our society is increasingly substituting online interactions for real-life ones, these important research findings underline the fact that as primates, we evolved not only in a social world but a microbial one as well.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The researchers published their findings in the journal <em><a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2022.1032495" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Frontiers in Microbiology</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2a928ab1-7fff-d510-19e0-817d118030bc"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Frontiers Press</em></p>

Caring

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Combating loneliness: How to meet new friends 

<p>Many of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives. It’s that sadness that comes from being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the people around you. For some it’s fleeting, for others it becomes entrenched and damaging. </p> <p>Several recent studies indicate loneliness is set to reach epidemic proportions by 2030. Experts say it’s as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. </p> <p>Britain has even appointed a minister for loneliness. A <a href="https://www.jocoxloneliness.org/pdf/a_call_to_action.pdf">report published by the Jo Cox Commission</a> showed nine million people “always or often feel lonely” and 200,000 older people in the UK have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. </p> <p>Here at home, we have the <a href="http://endloneliness.com.au/">Australian Coalition to End Loneliness (ACEL)</a>. Inspired by the work of the <a href="https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/">UK’s Campaign to End Loneliness</a>, the ACEL aims to address loneliness in Australia. </p> <p>The good news is that feeling lonely is nothing to be ashamed of – the research is clear that millions of people are in the same boat. </p> <p>“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need,” says one of the most prominent researchers in the field, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University in the United States. “It is crucial to both wellbeing and survival.” </p> <p><strong>“Help, I’m lonely!"</strong> </p> <p>A community member recently asked if we have any suggestions on how to overcome loneliness. </p> <p>“I'm a young 50s and love doing things but I'm lonely. I have lost close friends due to them moving away. I have lost the contact with people. I think I'm a loner – help me. What groups could I join to meet people?” </p> <p>Here are some ideas for meeting new friends: </p> <p><strong>1. Volunteering</strong><br />Volunteering is all about helping others, but it also benefits you personally – it offers the chance to make new friends, try a different career field, and explore your local area.</p> <p>Organisations that help refugees, the homeless, people with disabilities, disadvantaged youths or the elderly are numerous. Such organisations include <a href="http://mealsonwheels.org.au/">Meals on Wheels</a>, <a href="https://www.thesmithfamily.com.au/">The Smith Family</a>, <a href="http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/">The Salvation Army</a>, <a href="https://youthoffthestreets.com.au/">Youth Off The Streets</a>, <a href="https://www.midnightbasketball.org.au/">Midnight Basketball Australia</a>, <a href="https://www.sacredheartmission.org/">Sacred Heart Mission</a>, <a href="https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/">Black Dog Institute</a>, <a href="http://guidedogsaustralia.com/">Guide Dogs Australia</a>, and <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/">Lifeline Australia</a>. </p> <p>The State Emergency Service (SES) in your state and <a href="http://stjohn.org.au/">St John Ambulance Australia</a> often put a callout for volunteers. </p> <p>Wildlife rescue groups, such as <a href="https://www.wires.org.au/">WIRES </a>in NSW, and animal welfare organisations like the <a href="https://rspca.org.au/">RSPCA</a>, always appreciate an extra pair of hands – check the parks and wildlife service in your state. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, for example, is seeking volunteers for historic and cultural heritage tours, and for their threatened species and bush regeneration programs. </p> <p>If you enjoy working in customer service, try the local <a href="https://shop.oxfam.org.au/volunteer">Oxfam Shop</a>, <a href="https://www.redcross.org.au/get-involved/connect/volunteer">Red Cross</a> or <a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.au/take-action/volunteer">Save the Children op shop</a>. Libraries need volunteers to help with stocktake to maintain the toy library and to deliver books to library customers. For music lovers, community radio stations are often run by volunteers – you might even have the chance to host your own show. </p> <p>Major events also provide exciting opportunities for volunteers, so keep an eye out for big events that are coming to your town or city. Film, music and fashion festivals are often looking for volunteers. </p> <p>For more information, contact your local council or visit <a href="http://www.volunteering.org.au/">Volunteering Australia</a>. </p> <p><strong>2.</strong> <strong>Fitness classes</strong></p> <p>If you’re into group exercise, you have a potential social network right in front of you. Try golf, tennis, dragon boat racing, rowing, squash, salsa classes, ballroom dancing, badminton, ocean swimming, sailing, aqua aerobics or yoga — or find a walking group via the <a href="http://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/">Heart Foundation Walking network</a>.</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> <strong>Hobbies</strong></p> <p>Do you like gardening, films, model airplane flying, bird watching, photography, chess, creative writing, clay target shooting, knitting, bridge, quilting, cooking or reading? Look in your local area for groups, clubs or classes that you could join.</p> <p>Car fanatics could join a club, such as a classic car club. For motorcyclists, the <a href="http://www.ulyssesclub.org/">Ulysses Club</a> is a social group for people aged over 40 years. Its motto is “grow old disgracefully”. </p> <p>For the community or politically minded, you could attend local council meetings. And don’t forget your local <a href="https://mensshed.org/">Men’s Shed</a>, which provides a space to work on practical projects while enjoying some good old-fashioned mateship. </p> <p><strong>4.</strong> <strong>Faith-based groups</strong></p> <p>Churches and religious organisations tend to host a lot of social gatherings outside of their regular services, offering golden opportunities to meet people with similar beliefs. </p> <p><strong>5.</strong> <strong>Virtual spaces</strong></p> <p>Facebook, Instagram and other social networks can be used as a way to connect with old friends, make new ones, and keep up with what’s happening in your community.</p> <p>If you want to learn more about computers or social media, ask at your local library or visit a local computer club. The <a href="http://www.ascca.org.au/">Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association</a> lists over 130 clubs for older Australians – one might be in your area. </p> <p><strong>6.</strong> <strong>Meetups</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.meetup.com/">Meetup.com</a> is a nifty site that offers users the chance to join groups, known as Meetups, based on their location and interests. Examples of groups you can join include “Monopoly Players”, “More Bakeries Than Cycling Touring Club”, “Women’s Social Club”, and “French Movie Group”. If you can’t find a group that interests you, create your own!</p> <p><strong>7. Online dating</strong></p> <p>The major online dating sites are <a href="https://www.rsvp.com.au/">RSVP</a>, <a href="https://www.eharmony.com.au/">eHarmony</a>, <a href="https://au.match.com/">Match</a>, <a href="https://www.oasisactive.com/">Oasis Active</a>, <a href="https://www.pof.com/">Plenty of Fish (POF)</a>, <a href="https://www.zoosk.com/">Zoosk</a> and <a href="https://tinder.com/">Tinder</a>.</p> <p>A good place to start might be with eHarmony, as it caters for a large number of older users. Billed as “Australia’s most trusted online dating site”, it offers specific dating advice for seniors. Of course, there are scams out there, so keep your wits about you. </p> <p><strong>8. Lions and Rotary Clubs</strong></p> <p><a href="http://lionsclubs.org.au/">Lions </a>and <a href="http://rotaryaustralia.org.au/">Rotary </a>do a lot of good in their local communities and further afield. Lions’ motto is “where there’s a need, there’s a Lion”. Rotary is made up of members “who strive to make the world a better place”.</p> <p><strong>9. Returning to work</strong></p> <p>Working doesn’t have to be about the money. If you are in need of an outlet for mingling, going back to work could be the answer. Perhaps you could ask your former workplace about casual work or approach your local Bunnings Warehouse – the hardware chain encourages older workers back in to the workforce.</p> <p>Former teachers might register for substitute teaching and pet lovers could advertise pet sitting or walking services. If you love weddings, why not become a marriage celebrant? </p> <p>Adore children? Ask parents you know if they need babysitting or someone to pick their kids up after school. Crafty? How about a market stall? Too many veggies in the garden? Try selling them at a farmer’s market. A spare bungalow, caravan or room could be decorated and listed on <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/">Airbnb</a>. </p> <p>Other ideas include freelance writing, consulting or selling your photos on a microstock site such as <a href="https://www.gettyimages.com/">Getty Images</a>. </p> <p><strong>10. Pets</strong></p> <p>They are known as man’s best friend but having a dog can help you socialise more with people. A study by the University of Western Australia found “pet owners were significantly more likely to get to know people in their neighbourhood whom they didn’t know previously, compared with non-pet owners”.</p> <p>Published in <em>PLOS ONE, </em><a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122085"><em>The Pet Factor – Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support</em></a><em> </em>concluded that dog owners were more likely to get to know people in their community than owners of other pets, such as cats or birds. </p> <p><strong>11. Reconnecting with old friends</strong></p> <p>Make a list of people that you remember fondly and reach out to them by phone, email or Facebook. If they live nearby, invite them out for coffee, and if they are interstate or overseas, send a short email – who knows, one day you might take a trip and meet up with them.</p> <p>Don’t assume old friends have forgotten about you just because they haven’t been in touch – they may have been juggling work and parenting in their 30s and 40s, making it hard to stay in touch. Most likely, they will be pleased to hear from you. </p> <p>What have you done to combat feeling lonely? Share you experiences and ideas below. </p> <p><em>Written by Leah McLennan. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/combating-loneliness-how-to-meet-new-friends.aspx"><em>Wyza.com.au</em></a><em>.</em> </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Retirement Life

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5 steps to help you speak your mind

<p>Whether it’s at work, with friends, or with your family, saying what you really think often sounds like a bad idea. But holding back from telling people what’s going on in your head can also cause problems, as you are bottling up your emotions and never letting them out.</p> <p>So how do you speak your mind in a way that gets your point across, without hurting people’s feelings or alienating them?</p> <p><strong>Try to remove the emotion</strong></p> <p>This can be tough, but avoid crying or yelling (if you can!) and speak in a calm, clear manner. You are much more likely to get your point across if people can understand you and see that you are talking from a level head. When you act calm, even if you’re not, it makes other people see you as more confident. Shouting often has the opposite effect, as people can begin to tune out to what you are saying. You could try something like ‘I can see that your new girlfriend makes you happy. However I feel that you may be moving too quickly, and I don’t think you should have to stop seeing your friends just because you are dating somebody.’</p> <p><strong>Use positive words</strong></p> <p>Try to steer clear of extremes like ‘You always…’ or ‘I never…’ Instead, focus on what you would like to happen, and be specific. So instead of ‘You only want to see me when you need me to babysit your children’ you could say ‘I would like to spend one afternoon a week together just the two of us, doing something special.’</p> <p><strong>Explain both sides</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to get caught up with ‘I’ and ‘me’ when you are getting your point across, but thinking of the other person’s perspective can be very useful for being heard. People naturally think ‘What’s in it for me? Why should I listen to this?’ so tailor your argument towards that. So instead of ‘I think you work too much’ you could say ‘I’m worried that your hours are too long and you are going to get burnt out. We don’t see each other as often as we used to, and I miss spending time with you. How can I help you to see that money isn’t everything?’</p> <p><strong>Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen</strong></p> <p>At first you may be too worried about the ‘what ifs’ of speaking your mind. But ask yourself, honestly, what is the very worst thing that could happen if you do? Sure, people might initially feel upset or hurt if what you’re saying hits a nerve, but in the long run most would understand that you were saying how you felt so that you could make things better.</p> <p><strong>Accept that it may not be worth it</strong></p> <p>Sometimes you have to choose your battles, so if you know that speaking your mind will only cause ill-feeling and no good will come of it – let it go. Some things are not worth losing a friend over (like bad lipstick choices) whereas other things are too important to hold in (like issues with drugs or gambling).  A good way to decide whether to speak up is to think ‘will anything change if I speak up?’ If not, perhaps let it slide.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Mind

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"Absolute little champion": 11-year-old boy saves elderly neighbour

<p>Thanks to the calm and composed actions of Queensland boy, 11-year-old Ned Compton, his neighbour Elizabeth Taylor lives to see another day.</p> <p>Ms Taylor had fallen in her backyard and was unable to get up. She was laying there for an hour before Ned heard her calls which he was watching TV two blocks down and immediately leapt into action.</p> <p>The young boy had jumped on his bike and called triple-0 on the way.</p> <p>“There’s an old lady that’s hurt?” Queensland Ambulance Service operator Terry Hands asked, in a recording of the emergency call.</p> <p>Ned replied: “Yeah, I’m riding there on my bike right now.”</p> <p>“How do you know that this old lady’s fallen down? What’s happening?” Hands asked.</p> <p>“I called out (for) who needed help,” Ned replied.</p> <p>“She’s been there for an hour ... I might jump the fence to see if she’s OK.”</p> <p>Ned was able to provide clear information on his whereabouts for an ambulance to find them and come to the rescue.</p> <p>“For an 11-year-old boy, he’s an absolute little champion,” Hands told Sunrise.</p> <p>“He’s a triple-0 hero. He gave me the information and helped Elizabeth greatly that day.”</p> <p>Ned and Taylor have now formed a firm friendship which even extends to Ned mowing her lawn. Ned said: “I didn’t want her falling over in the grass again and getting hurt”.</p> <p>Ned is a local hero and his community are lucky to have him!</p> <p><em>Image: Sunrise</em></p>

Caring

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Queen Elizabeth’s “unlikely friendship” with Tom Cruise

<p dir="ltr">Queen Elizabeth II really enjoyed meeting Tom Cruise in the weeks before her death that she organised to have him celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. </p> <p dir="ltr">The late British monarch “really hit it off” with the <em>Top Gun</em> star but the pair were unable to rekindle at the Platinum Jubilee due to the Queen’s mobility issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, the Queen was adamant on seeing Tom again that she organised a tour of Windsor Castle. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The Queen let it be known that she was really disappointed not to have met Tom at the pageant, so he was invited to have a special tour of Windsor Castle with everything laid on for him. Afterwards, just the two of them had tea together,” the source said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tom enjoyed his time at the castle that he was also given the opportunity to fire a ceremonial gun.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She loved seeing him and they really hit it off, so much so that she invited him back for lunch. He was even allowed to fly in by helicopter,” the source continued. </p> <p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, the lunch never happened with the Queen passing away at the age of 96 on September 8. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tom has previously spoken of his admiration for Queen Elizabeth saying everything she has achieved are historic.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She’s just a woman that I greatly admire. I think she is someone who has tremendous dignity and I admire her devotion. What she has accomplished has been historic,” he said at the time.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Relationships

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"She's been amazing": The friendship helping Johnny Ruffo through cancer treatment

<p dir="ltr">Johnny Ruffo said he owes everything to his girlfriend Tahnee Sims for constantly being by his side as he battles through his terminal brain cancer. </p> <p dir="ltr">But behind-the-scenes is one more person that the former <em>Home and Away</em> star has to thank for her support.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lynne McGranger, who plays Irene Roberts, has also been a rock in Johnny’s life as he pushes through his chemotherapy. </p> <p dir="ltr">"She's been amazing," the former <em>X-Factor</em> star told TV Week.</p> <p dir="ltr">"She constantly checks in and asks how I'm doing. She always wants to go out for dinner.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I can't stress enough how people like her help get through tough times. She's just a wonderful person. Having people like that to say 'Oh, how are you feeling this week?' and little sweet things like that make all the difference. It's a great support network."</p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to Tahnee, Johnny admits that he wouldn’t have been able to go through his diagnosis without her. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Having Tahnee by my side every step of the way, literally and metaphorically, she's incredible. I couldn't do it without her,” he previously said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"She does it just as hard as I do. She's having to deal with all the doctors and what they're saying, and then she has to deal with me once we get home as well.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The singer is going through chemotherapy once every three weeks and said he wanted to give gave as the holiday season creeps up. </p> <p dir="ltr">Ruffo partnered with Amazon Australia to help twelve superhero children from the Starlight Children’s Foundation to become official toy testers for the festive season.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It brings such joy to me. It's a privilege to be able to know that you are helping them forget about everything that they're going through," he said in the Starlight Children's Foundation campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I feel like I get as much out of it as the kids. It's quite cathartic for me to be able to bring joy to these children who are somewhat in a similar position."</p> <p dir="ltr">The 34-year-old was first diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017 after struggling with multiple headaches.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ruffo then announced in 2019 that he was in remission, but by November 2020 the cancer had returned, before confirming in 2022 that his illness is terminal.</p> <p dir="ltr">He has also recently released a memoir called No Finish Line, dedicated to his girlfriend, in which he details his experiences recording music, acting, his family and loved ones.</p> <p dir="ltr">The title, he explains, is that “it wasn’t the end”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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Tips for making (and maintaining) friends in retirement

<p>Before retiring, the workplace provides us with ample opportunity to make and develop new friendships. The simple act of being in the same place as a lot of other people, as well as the chances for interaction each day in the lunch room or in meetings means that friendships can easily develop over time.</p> <p>When retirement looms, the idea of losing the ready group of friends can be a little scary. It’s not likely that you will continue to see all of the people that you used to work with anymore.</p> <p>It’s easy to focus on your bank balance when thinking about retirement planning. But it’s also important to think about investing time in your friendships so that the important ones will survive the transition to retirement life.</p> <p>You can also plan ahead so that you will have the chance to develop new relationships with other people in your community.</p> <p>While you are still in the workplace, put steps in place to strengthen the friendships that you think could survive outside of the office. Start conversations that aren’t work focused – it could be about family, holidays, current events or sports. This way you will see if you have a real connection or whether your friendship is more site-specific.</p> <p>You could also start to meet outside of work, for lunch or for a bike ride on the weekends. It might even be joining a local sports group or hobby together.</p> <p>When you are officially retired, making new friends can take a little more effort. You will need to be prepared to put yourself out there and be open to new experiences to meet people.</p> <p>Now is the time to take up a new hobby like photography, study a course such as creative writing, and practice new skills like tennis. All of these will lead you to naturally meet others who have similar interests to you.</p> <p>Another great option is to get involved with volunteer or charity work were you might even be able to use the skills you have from your years of work.</p> <p>If you really want to throw yourself in the deep end you could even sign up to an organised tour group and go travelling. Spending time with people on a cruise or bus trip is a great way to find like minded people who appreciate art, culture, history – or just good coffee. </p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Retirement Life

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