In retirement, one of the possible risks to seniors is feelings of isolation. This can be due to numerous reasons including medical conditions that limit mobility or the ability to socialize (such as hearing loss), geographical barriers, shrinking social circles and most notably, the fact that across the globe, seniors are living longer. It is vital to good health to remain active and stay engaged with the world around you as you age.
At Helping America’s Seniors we put together some tips on how to remain active and engaged as we age to keep that spring in your step.
- Volunteering is a great way to connect with a community and provide a sense of purpose and Give people the benefit of your time and/or years of experience. Knowing that your efforts are vital to the foundation of a group of people in need is a reassuring feeling. Many organizations such as your local YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and even retirement homes are always seeking assistance and allow for the public to lend a helping hand.
- You can usually find other volunteering opportunities through community bulletins, church programs, or even online at places like idealist.org and VolunteerMatch.org. Once you get started, it will be easier to make real-life connections that will open the door to other opportunities.
- Embrace your passions
- Whether it be gardening, knitting, board games, or reading, there are certainly other people out there who share your love for an activity. With a bit of effort, it is possible to turn your hobby into a group activity. For example, starting a community garden would allow for collaboration amongst locals and has the potential to grow as more people begin to take notice.
- Take a class
- Two-year colleges, libraries, and community centers often offer an array of educational activities, from artistic and creative classes to English and foreign languages. Although the internet can provide endless amounts of information on nearly any subject, taking classes not only lets you learn from well-educated people, it allows you to meet others with similar interests.
- Move to a retirement community
- Geographical barriers play a huge role in the loneliness epidemic senior citizens are facing. Moving to a retirement community may help solve this particular issue. While many are understandably apprehensive to move out of their homes, retirement communities can provide an excellent sense of belonging to its inhabitants. Living in close proximity with others who share similar circumstances can quickly make one realize the struggles of older age are common to everyone..
- Retirement communities are NOT the same as nursing homes, although that may be a good option given certain situations. The main difference between a nursing home and a retirement community is the availability of medical services. Nursing homes have nurses and other medical staff involved with the everyday operations, while retirement communities focus more on providing opportunities for seniors to stay active. These include tennis courts, swimming pools, and walking trails. It is mostly centered around activities that offer low-impact exercise.
- Get a Pet
- Pets are an excellent way to feel less alone in your home and are a great source of company. The affection and attention you receive from dogs and cats make trying situations much easier to bear. Also, to know that the quality of life of your animal is solely in your hands can be an empowering experience for many.
- With that in mind, pets are a large responsibility that will require physical activity to maintain. If you have doubts about your ability to care for one, it is important to seek guidance from relatives and pet experts as to whether or not a pet would be the right choice. Deciding on a pet from there should also be given great consideration. Aspects to consider are size, ability to train, and overall cleanliness.
If you’re a senior who is worried about feeling isolated in your retirement years, you are not alone. Your job may have given you both a social network, a routine and a sense of purpose. Transitioning from your career to retirement is a considerable shift and should not be taken lightly. There are steps you can take today to combat feelings of loneliness. Whether it be moving into a retirement community, volunteering, getting a pet, taking up a hobby or course, you can stay active and engaged. The hardest part is taking the first step!