Older men reach­ing out to their peers

Gatton Star - - Feature - By JEN­NIFER GRA­HAM

THE Older Men’s Net­work (TOMNET) is a not-for-profit group, es­tab­lished in Toowoomba in 2001.

It aims to of­fer a range of sup­port ser­vices for older men in re­gional, ru­ral and re­mote lo­ca­tions in South West Queens­land.

Th­ese men are not nec­es­sar­ily ac­cus­tomed to reach­ing out for help. How­ever, many men in this age group can find them­selves “at risk” when life is­sues such as the death of a spouse, re­tire­ment or the on­set of ill­ness slowly get on top of them.

Based upon a model of peer sup­port – older men sup­port­ing older men – the or­gan­i­sa­tion is all about help­ing in­di­vid­u­als to mean­ing­fully re­con­nect with so­cial net­works, re-en­gage with the wider com­mu­nity, then pay the favour for­ward by reach­ing out to other men who may be in the same predica­ment.

TOMNET Toowoomba gen­eral manger, Louise Ad­cock, said:

“A lot of the blokes that come in the door come in with a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue they are deal­ing with.”

Many are ret­i­cent at first to open up about their wor­ries, fears and emo­tions, but when oth­ers be­gin to share their own life sto­ries – the emo­tional highs and lows – a recog­ni­tion of them­selves in the ex­pe­ri­ences of oth­ers helps to kick-start a trans­for­ma­tion. Ms Ad­cock said that by: “demon­strat­ing that it is okay to share [mem­bers] start telling each other stuff they’ve never told any­one”, of­ten lead­ing to a volcanic-like purg­ing of long-sup­pressed de­tail.”

TOMNET op­er­ates a Com­mu­nity Care pro­gram through which TOMNET mem­ber vol­un­teers ac­tively seek out and help oth­ers.

This may be in the form of vis­its to pri­vate homes or aged care fa­cil­i­ties for some mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with oth­er­wise iso­lated in­di­vid­u­als or through the man­ning of a tele­phone sup­port sys­tem.

In re­cent times, some mem­bers have taken part in men­tor­ing pro­grams with lo­cal teenagers, be­ing both a sound­ing board and a source of non-judge­men­tal wis­dom.

Sta­tis­ti­cally, the five years im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing re­tire­ment is a dif­fi­cult time for men.

Hav­ing long been de­fined and given im­por­tance by their job role, the sud­den “rel­e­vancy deficit” that many ex­pe­ri­ence can be dif­fi­cult to cope with.

Many peo­ple are fi­nan­cially pre­pared for this part of their life thanks to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of su­per­an­nu­a­tion sem­i­nars on of­fer, but emo­tion­ally, many have no idea about what is about to “hit” them.

Recog­nis­ing this, TOMNET is about to roll out a se­ries of sem­i­nars ad­dress­ing is­sues such as what will re­tire­ment be like, what will change, what will be missed and what can be done to make th­ese changes eas­ier.

Nowa­days, re­tirees have a good twenty years to pos­i­tively con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity and en­joy a ful­fill­ing life, so nip­ping po­ten­tial prob­lems in the bud be­fore they es­ca­late is a proac­tive ap­proach.

TOMNET mem­bers come from all walks of life and the en­vi­ron­ment at weekly get-to­geth­ers is non-con­fronta­tional and sup­port­ive.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.