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HealthInfo 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 two different issues, but they're 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's also possible to be socially isolated and not feel lonely. For example, someone living on their own without feeling lonely.

It's not uncommon 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 more lonely than men.

Some carers that spend a lot of time supporting their partner or whānau/family member at home may feel socially isolated. If this is the case, you may be eligible for support so that you can have some time out to connect with others and do things you enjoy. Contact your GP to discuss some support.

Self-care for loneliness and social isolation

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

Connect with whānau/family or friends

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


Consider sharing your skills and time with people in your community. There may be a lonely person in your community who would love a visit or phone call on a regular basis. Alternatively, you could consider volunteering your time and skills to organisations such as Age Concern, Volunteering Canterbury, local schools or kindergartens.

Use a computer to get online

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

If you don't have the skills to use computers, perhaps 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, which you may want to search on the internet yourself or get a friend or whānau/family member to do for you. Below are some links to further Information and community groups you may find of interest.

We all find it difficult to go along to something new, so perhaps go with a friend or phone up first so that the people there are expecting you. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to take part in an activity that is specifically for older adults as there are plenty of activities or groups suitable for all age groups which 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. You can contact them by phoning (03) 941-7923.

Age Concern

Visit their website or telephone for information about their Accredited Visiting Service or their minibus outings. You could also become a volunteer. You can contact them by phoning (03) 366-0903 or 0800-803-344.

Active Canterbury

The Active Canterbury Network is made up of a number of agencies, trusts and organisations that 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 as well as meeting new people. Contact 0800-228-483 for information or advice.

Christchurch City Council (CCC)

The CCC maintain 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

The city libraries have a number of different activities on offer including adult education classes and contacts for leisure activities in the area. Christchurch City Libraries also host a number of book clubs including a Korean Book Club at Upper Riccarton Library. Visit the website for more details of what's available.

Meet Up

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

Menz Shed

Menz Shed brings men together in one community space to share their skills, have a laugh, and 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, so 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 co-operative of older people, which enables members to share many educational, creative and leisure activities. Activities are organised mainly in small groups that meet regularly, often in each other’s homes. There are a number of groups in the Canterbury area all of which can be contacted via the website above.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created July 2019. Last updated December 2019.


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Review key: HILSI-575235