Interest rates are at a record low, and look set to fall even further.

Some analysts believe the Reserve Bank of Australia could cut the cash rate twice before the end of 2016, meaning that the pitiful amount of interest being earned on cash deposits in the banks could get even worse. That’s bad news for many retirees, many of whom have most of their cash locked away in the bank.

Fortunately, however, there are other ways for individuals to make a reliable income. Australia is blessed with some of the highest dividend payout ratios in the world, whereby many income investors are generating great returns even in this low interest rate environment.

Investing in shares is riskier, of course, but I’ve tried to highlight some of the more conservative investment ideas for investors wanting to limit that risk.

Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) is the owner of extremely successful businesses such as Coles, Bunnings Warehouse and Officeworks, and is one of Australia’s most recognisable companies. With a rich history of earnings and dividend growth, Wesfarmers could be a great option for long-term investors. Its shares are currently trading for $41.38 and offer a fully franked yield of roughly 5%.

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) is the country’s biggest telecommunications provider, and a leader in broadband and mobile services. Despite its size, it still has great avenues for growth including machine-to-machine communications and eHealth. Its shares have also pulled back in price over the last 12 months or so, and are trading on a 5.9% fully franked dividend yield.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL) is arguably the closest Australian comparison to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in the United States. The investment conglomerate maintains a high level of diversity across various industries and invests for the (ultra) long-term. Unlike Berkshire however, Washington H. Soul Pattinson does pay a dividend – it’s currently yielding 3.1% fully franked at its $16.69 share price.

Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) operates Westfield shopping centres in the United States and the United Kingdom, with the potential to expand further internationally. As the company generates all of its earnings overseas, it stands to benefit if (or when) the Australian dollar eventually falls, which will also boost its dividend yield in Australian dollar terms. At the current exchange rate of roughly US76 cents, the shares yield 3.3%.

Of course, these are just four of the high-yield dividend shares that investors can choose from for potentially superior returns. While they are all somewhat conservative, however, there are a number of other companies offering solid dividend yields that also have the potential to generate significant capital gains, including The Motley Fool's Top Dividend Stock for 2016.

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The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.