Combatting Loneliness Among Seniors
As we age, we tend to lose some of the connections we once had. Many friendships were tied to the workplace and, after retirement, it can be hard to keep those relationships alive. Seniors who once dreamed of the day they no longer had to work, can find themselves bored once that day finally comes. Without a place to go, they can become shut in and inadvertently distanced from friends and family.
Throughout America, loneliness has become somewhat of an epidemic. Around 42.6 million adults over the age of 45 are said to be experiencing chronic social isolation. According to the American Psychological Association, loneliness may soon become a greater public health hazard than obesity.
Human beings are inherently social creatures and interaction is a fundamental need. Prolonged isolation can actually increase the risk of premature mortality. A total of 148 studies—involving about 30,000 participants—were conducted and found that continued friendship and community involvement reduced the risk of death by around 50 percent.
This evidence shows that we cannot let ourselves become disconnected from the people around us, but this can be hard. Retirement can leave you not knowing what to do with yourself. With so much newly found free-time, the question becomes; How do we remain engaged with others in our Golden Years?
Finding something you’re interested in is a great place to start. Whether it’s a hobby or a grandchild who lives nearby, being invested in something that gets you out of the house is the key to remaining healthy. Here are some examples of possible endeavors.
Remaining active is a great way to combat loneliness. Joining a local gym or participating in a gentle yoga class can help seniors break out of their shell and open up the possibility to meet new people. Or, if that’s too far out of your comfort zone, simply try going for one or two walks a day. Just getting out of the confines of your home can present opportunities for community involvement.
Pursue a Part-Time Job.
If you just loved the hustle-and-bustle of a workplace atmosphere, there is no reason you must give that up simply because you’ve grown older. Look into some part-time job openings, maybe in a field you’ve worked in previously or one you feel you may enjoy.
Many seniors have found fulfillment through volunteering. Reach out to a charity, church, or organization that you find interesting or previously have been apart of and find out what you can do for them. An involvement opportunity like this can be a great way to make friends and could end up being something you’re passionate about.
Learn Something New.
Sign up for a class at the community center, craft store, or even a local community college. Begin a brand-new undertaking and really break out of your comfort zone. This will allow you to open your mind and expand your social circle. Picking up a new hobby or skill will give you something to practice on your own as well.
Reconnect with Friends.
Perhaps there’s an old neighbor, co-worker, or classmate who you have lost touch with. It’s never too late to reach out. Try inviting them for out for coffee or lunch or just striking up a phone conversation. They will probably be touched that you’re inquiring about their well-being.