Staying connected and independent

Stay connected

Loneliness is an issue that can affect us all and have a negative impact on our wellbeing.  Every Mind Matters has some top tips on how to help yourself or others if you or they are feeling lonely.

Sometimes the best support system can be a group of good friends.

Whether you are new to the area or looking for people who share the same interests as you, there are hundreds of groups, classes and activities where you can meet new people and make friends.

Volunteering is a good way to meet new people and to feel valued. See the "Get involved in your community" section below.

You might also want to join some exercise classes or sports activities which is a great way to make new friends as well as staying fit. See the "Stay steady on your feet" section below.

If you have mobility problems, see our information to help you get out and about.

If you are unable to get out, you can still keep in touch with people.

  • Find ‘Befriending services’
  • See our "Get online" section below for help with computers and accessing the internet.

Get involved in your community

If you have spent most of your adult life working or raising a family (or both), retirement can sometimes feel a little slow. It can take time to adjust to the change of pace.

One of the best ways to ease this transition – and to make new friends and do something rewarding – is to volunteer in your community.

Giving your time in your local community can help you to connect with others, whilst helping to make a positive change for others. As one of the five ways to wellbeing, it’s not only a great way for you to make new friends but also helps to boost your own wellbeing.

There are a wide range of ways to get involved in your local community depending on your interests or the skills you want to offer. You can support on a regular basis, or as and when you are able

Be proactive about staying healthy

Routine check-ups

As we get older, routine check-ups are critical to maintaining your long-term health and independence. Appointments help your doctor to detect and address any issues. They also give you the opportunity to ask any questions and to make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to stay active and well.

Learning what is normal for you and detecting subtle changes in your daily activities may help you identify and address problems before they become a major issue. You may be able to minimise or even reverse some of the changes you experience including reduced mobility, visual problems, bladder and bowel control, and hearing loss. 

See also our health and wellbeing advice for help with specific issues such as incontinence, drinking, smoking and weight management.

NHS online tests, tools and apps

NHS Health checks

We're all responsible for our health and regular health checks are vital.  

  • If you're aged 40 to 74, you may be eligible for a free NHS health check. Find out where you can have your NHS Health Check in Hampshire.
  • Anyone who is on their GP's learning disability register can have a free health check once a year. You can ask to go on this register if you think you have a learning disability.
  • Annual physical health checks are also available for people registered with their GP as having a severe mental illness. You should be invited annually for a health check but if you think you are due one, you should contact your GP surgery.

Make sure you get your annual flu jab – especially if you are over 65, have certain medical conditions or are a carer.

The Family Plan
The Family Plan has been designed to provide you with key tips on how to stay independent and well. You can use it on your own or with your family. It can help you to think about what's important to you. 

The plan can help you think about what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it for example, how you'd like to move more so that you can improve your confidence and how you feel, as well as increase your strength and reduce your chance of falling. You might also use the plan to set goals around staying hydrated, or getting out and about.

The Family Plan is a great starting point to explore the small changes you can make that will become positive habits as part of a daily routine. 

Keep your mind alert

Most of us become a little more forgetful as we get older but it is not inevitable and there are things you can do to stay alert.

Physical exercise is a great route to take for better brain health, as it improves the flow of blood to your brain. Older people who regularly undertake moderate exercise have a 36 per cent lower risk of cognitive impairment than those who do not.

There are other ways for you to keep your brain engaged. You could read a book, complete a jigsaw or crossword, play a game of chess, learn a new skill or language. Our community directory has many adult learning opportunities. If you are unable to get out, the home library service can arrange to have books delivered to your home on a regular basis.

Here are four easy activities you could do every day to strengthen brain function: 

  1. Test your recall. Make a list — of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind — and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.
  2. Multiply random two-digit numbers in your head. 12 x 43? 24 x 16? It doesn’t matter how long you take to arrive at the answer – you’re still exercising your brain!
  3. Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.
  4. Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.

 If you are worried about memory loss, you may want to read our information about dementia.

Get online

The internet has many benefits, from increasing your independence to helping with your physical and mental health. It is also a great way of connecting with others, especially if you are unable to go out or if they do not live close to you. But finding your way around the web can be a little daunting if you are new to it. Below are links to some useful information and easy to follow guides to help you build your confidence.

Help for beginners to get online

  • Broadband Savvy helps you make sense of broadband terminology and find the best package for you.

    Find more computer help in our community directory.

    Staying safe online - cyber crime and online fraud

    As the internet has become part of our daily lives, online fraud has increased - from email scams to fake holiday sites to identity fraud. Read the information and advice from Hampshire Constabulary on how to protect yourself from these types of scams.

    Hampshire Bobby Scheme also have a Cyber Bobby Scheme that provides free home visits to give guidance about basic IT security and how to avoid being affected by a cyber crime. This service is available to over 65s, anyone over 18 who is disabled, or anyone who has been a previous victim of cyber crime. 

    Hampshire Superfast Broadband

    If your property is not included in the current superfast broadband programme and you can only access a speed of 2Mbps or less, there is a Government scheme in place to help you access better broadband

    Find the right equipment

    There is a wide range of equipment that can help you if you are struggling with mobility issues or with tasks around the house. See our Equipment and Adaptations section.

    Embrace technology

    You may already use email, social media and instant messaging to stay engaged with family and friends. But have you explored technology which can make life easier?

    Care technology

    There is a vast range of monitoring and alert equipment that can help to support you to remain independent in your own home and even when you are out in the community. This is also sometimes known as ‘telecare’. It includes pendant alarms, sensors, GPS trackers and much more.

    See our information on care technology


    If you have invested in WiFi connection, there is a huge range of apps available, to use on smartphones or tablets, which can help you. For example:

    • MyTherapy pill reminder and medication tracker combines a pill tracker, mood tracker and a health journal.
    • Life360 is a free app which lets you create a circle of friends or family. It uses GPS technology so your family can always see where you are (and you can keep track of them!).
    • BeMyEyes is an app that connects visually impaired users to volunteer helpers who can aid with everyday tasks.
    • Wheelmap lets you mark and find wheelchair accessible places — worldwide and for free.
    • The NHS app allows you to access a range of NHS services and to search information and advice on hundreds of conditions and treatments. 

    You could also use a ‘virtual assistant’ like Amazon Alexa. You can download the app and use it on your phone or tablet, or even with a separate speaker. You can then ask it questions, get it to set reminders, play your favourite music and much more.

    Smart home devices

    Smart technology can help you improve your home environment in a variety of ways.

    For example, you could consider investing in wireless thermostats, lighting and security systems that connect to your smartphone through easy-to-use apps. With a few taps on your touch screen, you can check the locks, turn on the lights and adjust the temperature from miles away.

    See the Which guide to smart home devices for your home.

    Stay active and prevent falls

    Watch our short video for top tips to help you stay steady on your feet and prevent falls.

    Fitness is important at every age, but especially so as we get older. As we age, we begin losing muscle strength and become more prone to falls. Around 1 in 3 adults over 65 currently have at least one fall a year. Depending on the severity of the injury, one fall can greatly impact independence. 

    By engaging in regular, low-impact exercise you can reduce muscle loss and stave off disease. Try daily walks, water aerobics, a round of golf or tai chi.

    If you cannot get out or have reduced mobility:

    If you have had a fall in the last three months you may be eligible for support through the NHS, which can include NHS balance classes. Please talk to your GP about local NHS falls services in your area.

    Further information

    Falls Assistant - falls self-assessment, support and advice 

    Think about what you eat and stay hydrated

    It sounds obvious but having a balanced diet is crucial for good health and energy and to prevent illness. Staying hydrated is also important, particularly for older people for whom dehydration can cause serious health problems.

    See the "Eating well" and "Staying hydrated" sections of our Health and wellbeing page.

    Look after your feet

    You are more prone to foot problems as you get older so it is very important to take care of your feet. See the advice from Age UK .

    Depending on where you live and any conditions you have (such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis), it may be possible to have routine podiatry (also known as chiropody) treatment on the NHS.  You should speak to your GP about this.

    If you do not qualify for free treatment, you can search for a podiatrist (chiropodist) in your area on the College of Podiatry website  or telephone 0207 234 8620.

    Some community organisations, such as Age UK, offer foot care and toenail cutting services.

      Adapt your home

      If you want to stay independent at home, you will want to ensure that your home is secure, safe and easy to move around by yourself. Simple adjustments such as installing hand rails on the walls or changes in the bathroom, such as a wet room, can make a huge difference.

      See our information about equipment and adaptations and staying safe in your home.

      The NHS has useful advice about removing trip hazards in your home to prevent falls.