Life as a Senior – Simple Strategies to Be Less Lonely
Researchers agree that seniors benefit from being less lonely and that women and men in their Golden Years enjoy healthier lives when they socialize. Some of the primary benefits for seniors associated with being less lonely and socializing include:
- Reduced stress
- Longer lifespan
- Better fitness
- Reduced risk of depression
- Lower anxiety level
- Improved self-esteem
Understanding the value for a senior of being more socially active, there are some simple strategies to employ that can assist older women or men in being less lonely:
- Maintain and strengthen current relationships
- Make use of technology
- Join groups
- Explore hobbies
- Give back
- Get outside
- Accept invitations and reciprocate
- Snuggle with your furry friend
- Do not be afraid to ask for assistance
Maintain and Strengthen Your Current Relationships
Building new relationships can always help lessen loneliness; working on existing ones is also very important. In many ways, the easiest course to take when it comes to enhancing socializing opportunities and lessening loneliness when a person is in his or her Golden Years is to strengthen existing or current relationships.
Reach out to people already in your life as part of getting more social and lessening the risk of loneliness. These people can include family members and friends, including individuals you may have lost contact with recently.
Make Use of Technology
Perhaps nothing more than the isolating months of quarantine associated with the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the availability of wonderful technology that allows us to stay connected and build relationships. Another simple strategy that can aid a senior individual in the ability to be less lonely is making use of technology.
Using apps like Zoom or Facetime allows you to cement existing relationships and spend more meaningful time with people who already are a part (or historically were a part) of your life. This technology also allows you to cultivate new relationships.
No matter where you are in life, joining groups can prove to be an ideal way for you to build relationships and become less lonely. This is true if you reside independently or have moved to an assisted living community.
Groups come in many different sizes, shapes, and purposes. These include religious organizations, volunteer opportunities, book clubs, recreational gatherings, and many other options and opportunities. Simply put, you can find groups that fit your interests. You can also join groups in the brick-and-mortar world and online.
Explore Your Hobbies
If you are like many individuals, you have hobbies. If that is the case, you can use your existing hobbies and interests as a vehicle to assist you in meeting people. You can develop meaningful relationships with people who share your common interests in one type of hobby or another.
As has been discussed with other strategies to limit loneliness raised in this article, there exist opportunities to connect with others who share your interest in a particular hobby both in the brick-and-mortar world and online. Indeed, thanks to modern technology, you have the opportunity to connect with like-minded folks from the world over.
Dr. Carla Manly, a clinical psychologist writing in Aging Joyfully, notes that “volunteer efforts can reduce loneliness.” Through volunteering, you give back to others. In addition, research studies confirm that in addition to giving back to others, volunteering helps you to build meaningful relationships with other people. Volunteering also puts you in an overall better frame of mind.
You may not immediately know where to look for volunteer opportunities that fit your interests and abilities. One resource that can be helpful to you in identifying where volunteers are needed is the online resource VolunteerMatch.org.
In Aging Joyfully, Dr. Manly discusses the importance of getting out of your residence, of getting out and about, to reduce the risk for loneliness in life. According to Dr. Manly:
Whether you take a walk, go to the store, or sit in the park, use time outside to engage with others, even if only to smile, chat, and feel the world around you.
The reality is that even if you don’t spend much time talking to others when you are out of your home, there are benefits. According to Dr. Manly and other professionals, simply being around other people can boost your mood and leave you in a better frame of mind.
Accept Invitations and Reciprocate
If you are like many people in your Golden Years, you may receive invitations “to do things” that you do not accept. You can’t socialize unless and until you accept opportunities to socialize. You cannot beat a feeling of loneliness until you spend time with friends and family.
In addition to accepting invitations to do things with others, you need to reciprocate. You need to take the step to invite family and friends to do things with you.
Snuggle With Your Furry Friend
While you can’t substitute human contact altogether for the companionship of a pet, you cannot discount how an animal companion can improve your life. Research proves the point. The bond between people and pets is demonstrated helpful in the:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Decreasing triglyceride levels
- Reducing cholesterol
- And – significantly – making a person less lonely
In addition to providing very real companionship, pets keep you active. In addition, pets can assist you in meeting other people. For example, when a person takes a dog for a walk, connections with other people walking about are likely to happen.
Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Assistance
Finally, if you find yourself feeling lonely – tell someone. Communicate your feelings of loneliness to family and friends. Tell these people you would like to talk to or spend time together more often. You will likely find that some of your friends and family are also experiencing loneliness. They will be very pleased themselves that you reached out to them.
In the final analysis, you will take major steps to reduce the risk or experience of loneliness in your life by utilizing the strategies discussed in this article. You will build a social network and circle of friends that you will enjoy spending time with today and into the future.