Retirement can be challenging, especially for those living alone and with small or non-existent social circles.
Ageing alone can leave seniors feeling isolated, socially withdrawn, and depressed — all aspects that could manifest physically through illness, lack of ability to perform everyday functions, and even increased rate of mortality, SeniorLiving.org notes.
A recent Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP) poll found that 15 percent of those surveyed had nobody to talk to and a further 15 percent were unhappy doing things alone.
The research found that loneliness could shorten our lifespan twice as much as obesity, which is why having a basic support base is important, but it can be daunting to build one up from scratch.
The good news is it’s not that difficult to meet new people, and here are a few simple ways for retirees to build their social circles.
1. Volunteering and charity work— Giving back to the community is rewarding on its own but volunteering to help at a church, support group, or local charity is also a great way to connect with other like-minded people, HuffPost suggests.
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2. Take a class— You may no longer be working, but it does not mean you cannot continue learning. More retirees are taking classes and there are many learning opportunities available at low costs — or even for free —for seniors. Some examples of such opportunities include the public Michigan Technological University in Houghton, the College of Wooster in Ohio, or the Bernard Osher Foundation, which offers programs at educational institutions nationwide, according to Consumer Reports.
3. Join a club or group— There are countless community groups and clubs open for retirees to join, from Toastmaster’s to chess. A good place to find out what opportunities are available in your neighborhood is the online platform Meetup.com, which connects people with similar interests.
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4. Get a roommate— Living alone can bring on social isolation, which is why there is an uptick in the number of older men and women moving in together. Having a roommate not only alleviates some of that loneliness, it creates a sense of community and eases financial burdens, AARP notes.
5. Get fit — Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and to fight off the blues, but an added benefit of going to the gym or seeking out fitness classes geared towards retirees is that you get to socialize with new people in a fun environment. There are gyms that focus on seniors, such as American Family Fitness, but regular gyms also offer classes that you can take part in regardless of your fitness level.
6. Visit the library or museum— Most libraries across the U.S. are creating senior-friendly spaces by developing programs, classes, workshops and activities specifically for retirees. Lifetime Arts is one organization that has been working to develop programs such as arts education for older adults in libraries countrywide.
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