Many people report feeling lonely as they get older. One study recently found that 1 in 4 adults over 65 felt socially isolated.
Loneliness can be due to various factors including retirement, empty nest, death of loved ones or health problems. Below are just some of the ways in which can prevent loneliness as you get older.
Many health problems can make us less mobile or make social interaction harder. This in turn leads to loneliness in many older adults.
Not all health problems in later life can be prevented. However, many are influenced by lifestyle factors. For example, being physically inactive and overweight can increase your risk of osteoporosis or arthritis, while smoking can increase your risk of developing COPD. By taking steps to lead a more healthy lifestyle, you could potentially prevent these health problems from developing.
You may be able to reduce the impact of some health problems by seeking treatment early. Such treatments could help you to stay social.
Hearing loss is a good example. Many people lose their hearing and struggle to follow conversations. This can lead to social withdrawal and loneliness. Fortunately, there are many treatments for hearing loss - the most obvious being to wear a hearing aid. By looking out for the signs of hearing loss, you could get a hearing aid in good time to reduce future awkward social interactions.
Many of us lose touch with family and friends as we get older. You should try to stay connected if you can - make sure to schedule ahead regular meetups so that you always have a social event to look forward to.
Social media can be useful for keeping in contact with loved ones. If you no longer have a friend or family member’s phone number, you may be able to reconnect with them through social media.
Social clubs and groups can be great places to make new friends. They can also provide a regular purpose for socializing.
Look out for local clubs and groups based around your interests. This could be anything from a tai chi class to a book club. Some groups may focus more on young people, however there could be some groups aimed specifically at an older demographic - you may find that you get along with people more easily when attending these groups.
Your later years may be a time to finally give up work. However, if work was a big source of social interaction, you may find that it benefits you to still do a couple hours of paid or voluntary work each week in a people-facing role.
You could make new friends and it will give you a purpose to get out and be around people. Check out this guide to the most common voluntary jobs in retirement.
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