Any person can feel lonely at times in his or her life. However, it is often those who are retired who feel lonely more often. Even if you are not retired yet, you can take note of the following tips to combat loneliness.
Some people tend to build their lives, including their social lives, around their jobs, professions or workplace. When they retire, they all of a sudden find themselves at a loss as to what to do. In addition, they may lose a loved one, children and grandchildren may live far away and their social circle, if they have one, may not be as active as when they were younger. This situation may pose risks for depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, dementia and … loneliness.
The following strategies may to help lift moods and stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness:
Make friends and develop an active social circle
Although this isn’t easy, you will have to take the initiative. Join a group that has the same interests as you. This will give you an opportunity to meet new people who may become your friends.
Invite a few people over to your home. Take the initiative to get some of your old friends and acquaintances together, or invite the neighbours or new acquaintances.
If you like board games or reading, start a weekly meeting of like-minded people. You may be surprised at how many attend – and they may become your best friends. Do you have a skill that others may want to learn? You could offer a small class at your home once a week. These ideas may also allow inter-generational interaction, which may be something that you enjoy.
Join a social group
In many communities there are existing social groups that meet on a regular basis. Talk to other seniors or your church members to find out where these are located. You may join as many of these groups as you want.
Introduce yourself to the others in the group and ask about them. People like talking about themselves and this will give you an opportunity to get to know them, but remember that growing new friendships takes time and ongoing contact.
Helping others usually helps to put one’s own situation in perspective and makes us thankful for the many blessings that we have in our lives. Volunteering increases feelings of purpose and self-worth and it’s also a great way of meeting new people. NGOs, schools, churches, hospitals, food programmes, etc all need volunteers to help them deliver a service.
But perhaps you prefer to help a fellow senior who is not as fortunate as you and just as lonely? Contact your local old age home and find out where you can help.
Start a hobby
Hobbies can give structure to your day; in fact, they can keep you motivated and busy planning forward. Meeting up with people who enjoy the same hobbies can give a whole new meaning to your life. These people are usually organised in clubs that you can join, for example a garden club or a book club. You can also join Internet-based groups such as senior blogs, listservs and newsgroups.
Some examples of hobbies are:
- Brid watching
- Model trains
- Arts and crafts
- Playing an instrument
- Pen pals.
Learn to use the Internet
If you are not familiar with the Internet, now’s the time to learn how to make use of it. Online sites and chat rooms designed for seniors can bring you into contact with potential friends. Online games (like poker and bridge) and online seminars are available to seniors. However, be careful to whom you disclose any personal information, such as your address and telephone number; protect your personal identity.
The Internet also gives many opportunities to stay in contact with family and friends around the globe, including online phone calls and video calls (eg Skype), Facebook and emails. Keeping in contact with your loved ones will shorten the distances separating you and will lessen feelings of loneliness.
Get a pet
Caring for a pet not only lowers your blood pressure, it also helps you feel less lonely. The attachment and affection between pets and their owners leads to a greater sense of companionship, thus decreasing loneliness.
If you’re single, you may want to start dating again. Companionship gives a sense of value and purpose. Online dating is also a possibility but, once again, take care to whom you reveal personal details.
Don’t sit and mope. Get active. You will be surprised how good you feel after a good workout or a brisk walk around the block. Join the seniors class at your local a gym. However if you are very unfit or have a medical condition, check with your doctor before you start exercising.