Social life crucial for Kiwis living alone

Social life crucial for Kiwis living alone

New figures show more than 355,000 Kiwis live alone, and with our ageing population that figure is set to rise.

With isolation linked to depression and dementia, experts say having a social life is crucial.

Ken Bryant is 88 years old and he calls himself a wanderer. He's lived alone for 12 years since his wife passed away, and for him keeping loneliness at bay is simple.

"You gotta look positive on life, haven't you?"

Keeping busy is about the little things -- whether that be reading a book or doing housework.

Mr Bryant still drives. He's away to Perth on holiday in a few weeks, where he'll be staying in a backpackers' and wandering.

But not every widower in their 80s can still do that. Kevin Lamb of Age Concern says many older people aren't quite that lucky.

"They may have lost a partner that they've been with for many, many years and they may have lost their confidence to go out on their own."

This is where groups like Senior Chefs, run by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation and Age Concern, steps in.

Like 'Ken the Wanderer', it's keeping it simple -- healthy recipes for people living alone.

Ken Mackintosh is part of the group and he is learning how to help his wife out with the cooking while also making friends.

Most of these 'Senior Chefs' are busy, social and active but they know there might be some at home who are not as fortunate.