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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Loneliness and social isolation

Mokemoketanga me te whakataratahi

We all experience a feeling of loneliness and social isolation in our lives at times.

Loneliness and social isolation are 2 different issues, but they are often related. Both can have a negative impact on physical and mental health.

Loneliness happens when you have a lack of connection or contact with other people. Sometimes, people can feel lonely without being socially isolated. For example, feeling lonely in a crowd of people.

Social isolation is a lack of contact with your whānau (family), friends or community. It is also possible to be socially isolated and not feel lonely. For example, someone living on their own without feeling lonely.

It is common for older people to have feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Reasons for loneliness and social isolation

Feelings of loneliness and social isolation are often triggered by factors including:

Women sometimes report feeling lonelier than men.

Some carers who spend a lot of time supporting their partner or whānau member at home may feel socially isolated. If so, you may be eligible for support so you can have some time out to connect with others and do things you enjoy. Contact your general practice team to discuss some support.

Self-care for loneliness and social isolation

If you are lonely, there are ways to help you connect with others. Some tips to keep engaged include:

Connect with whānau or friends

Your whānau and friends could really appreciate receiving an invitation to visit. Or you could keep in touch by phone.


Consider sharing your skills and time with people in your community. There may be a lonely person in your community who would love a regular visit or phone call. You could also consider volunteering your time and skills to organisations. For example, Age Concern, Volunteering Canterbury, local schools or kindergartens.

Use a computer to get online

If whānau or friends live a distance away, computers are great to help keep in touch.

If you do not have the skills to use a computer, you could consider taking a course to help you learn. Libraries and community centres often hold regular training courses.

Join a group

There are many other activities. You could search for them on the internet or get a friend or whānau member to do it for you. Below are some links to community groups you may find of interest.

We all find it difficult to go along to something new. You could go with a friend or phone first so the people there are expecting you. Remember, you do not necessarily have to take part in an activity that is specifically for older people. There are plenty of activities or groups suitable for all age groups that you may enjoy.


CINCH is an online community directory of clubs, community organisations and continuing education course providers in the greater Christchurch area. Members come from a wide variety of different cultures and backgrounds.

Age Concern

Visit their website or phone for information about their Accredited Visiting Service or their minibus outings. You could also become a volunteer.

Active Canterbury

The Active Canterbury Network is made up of agencies, trusts and organisations. They promote physical activity and support people to lead active lives. They have all the information, links and tools you need for you to take the next step towards a more active lifestyle. They can also help you meet new people.

Christchurch City Council (CCC)

The CCC maintains a clubs and activities register for a wide variety of activities and social groups for older people in Christchurch. The groups include bowling, dancing, social groups and church groups.

Christchurch City Libraries

Libraries have several activities on offer including adult education classes and contacts for leisure activities in the area. They also host several book clubs including a Korean Book Club at Upper Riccarton Library. Visit the website for more details of what is available.

Meet Up

The Meet Up website lists a wide variety of social and activity groups that you can join in Christchurch. These include cycle touring, game development, movie and food clubs and social get-togethers.

Menz Shed

Menz Shed brings men together in one community space to share their skills and have a laugh. They can also work on practical tasks, individually (personal projects) or as a group (for the Shed or community). There are over 20 sheds in the Canterbury region. Visit the website above to see if there is one near you and to get local contact details.

The University of the 3rd Age (U3A)

This is a learning cooperative of older people that enables members to share many educational, creative and leisure activities. Activities are mainly organised in small groups that meet regularly, often in each other’s homes. There are several local groups, all of which can be contacted via the website above.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2022.


Page reference: 575235

Review key: HILSI-575235