Being social and active is important for all people. Without socializing or participating in activities and events, people often feel isolated and depressed. For seniors, social engagement is not just important -- it is essential. During the senior years, older adults are at higher risk of suffering from social isolation and loneliness. Factors like physical health, mental health, mobility, resources, and environment can all prevent seniors from getting out into the social world or having a good time as often as they would like.
Bodies and minds change as people grow older, and so do their needs. Social needs should not be put on the back-burner. Staying social and connecting with other people is just as important as taking care of your body. An active social life and feelings of close connections with others can make people feel happier, raise their self-esteem and improve the overall health as well as their quality of life.
If you find yourself (or if you think your aging parents might be) staying inside or spending too much time alone, you may want to try a few new activities that can get you out mingling with new people. Here are four great ways to boost your social life and make new friends.
- Get A Part-Time Job – You may be retired but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still make a little bit of money and get out of the house! According to a study from the Families and Work Institute in New York and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, 13% of the 50 and older age group questioned reported that the reason that they worked after retirement was to interact with other people.
- Volunteer – Volunteering is deeply personal and satisfying for a lot of people. Many seniors find that volunteering gives them a sense of purpose and meaning. Volunteers can spend time helping patients in hospitals, with children who need a mentor, in a library or dozens of other places. The Senior Corps is a great resource for seniors looking for volunteer opportunities; for adventurous spirits, there are opportunities at the Peace Corps.
- Join A Group – Check in your area for senior groups that have already been formed, or form one on your own. Do you have a special interest that you would like companions involved in like daily walking, gardening, sewing or reading? There are many groups for seniors that are available or that can be created in your area to help seniors connect with each other and gain a feeling of camaraderie and friendship.
- Social Networking – Social networking can be a powerful tool. There are numerous support groups, dating apps and other types of online groups that allow people to interact in connect. In fact, one-third of Americans over the age of 65 use social media to interact with other people.
Making friends as a senior does not have to be difficult or scary. Look for fun events and activities, join an online group or a local dating app and have fun! Making yourself available for more social activity can significantly improve your spirit and your health. If you are unsure of your limitations or have other concerns regarding certain activities and your health, be sure to talk to your health care provider before attempting anything new.