There may not be a cure for the common cold, but there is a cure for loneliness. Here are just a few examples of how to combat social isolation.
By Vicki Martinez
You Know You Want To
Peer pressure. During high school, it was the harbinger of bad decision making. But in the golden years, it can be the motivation to stay active. That’s one reason group exercise programs have proven to be highly effective for shutting the door on loneliness. If you have a group of friends waiting for you to join them, it’s almost impossible to make excuses.
Tap into Your Creativity
A significant number of studies have been done on the most effective methods for senior loneliness intervention. Much evidence points to educational programs or classes that offer some sort of new skill or craft to learn.
How do you know you won’t enjoy woodworking, or brewing your own beer, or learning how to paint (with a Mai Tai by your side, of course) unless you give it a try?
Give Unto Others
You have valuable skills, wisdom from life’s lessons (both good and bad) and relevant knowledge gained from years of work experience. Volunteering is an excellent way to pass this on while creating connections.
Whether donating your time in an animal shelter, using your skills of sewing, knitting, crocheting or mentoring a young person you have something useful to give. But offering your time or trade is not only about giving; you get something back when you volunteer.
There’s a strong body of evidence that involving yourself in some form of volunteer work has powerful health benefits. People who volunteer on a regular basis experience less depression, increases in energy and strength, an overall greater sense of well-being, and they live longer!
Rekindle the Romance
Who says there’s no romance after [insert your current age here]? If someone did say it, they need to be given a dose of the woodshed treatment. And then politely schooled on the limits — there are none — of love.
One of the most challenging factors seniors face in meeting new people and finding a special someone is simply the ability to get out into the community and be active and social. Being able to immerse yourself in a community where you can get to know new people is key for lighting a spark! But even if you don’t run into your Romeo or jive with Juliet, at least you’ll have made some new friends.
Jump on the Friend-Making Bandwagon
Topping the list of ways to beat loneliness: Surround yourself with like-minded people who are at the same stage of life. Having a friend to laugh (and cry) with and a group of caring individuals to support you through good times and bad is what being part of a community is all about. It’s also a great natural defense against loneliness.
The easiest way to make new friends is to just be around people. Beyond that, don’t be afraid to spark up conversations. Compliment someone on their appearance or a skill they demonstrate. Put yourself into situations that allow you to meet people with similar interested such as a fitness or painting class. Join a book club or start a weekly game night with neighbors.
Loneliness should never be accepted as a normal part of aging. In fact, it’s not natural. From the earliest days, people have always sought out others to create connections and establish communities. It was necessary for survival.
A Common Denominator
There’s something every activity on this list has in common: they can all be accomplished in a single location — a Senior Living community.
At Spectrum Retirement Communities, residents have access to all these activities and so much more. If you feel you may be heading down that lonely road to social isolation, it’s time to make a change.