While it’s common for seniors to experience loneliness after retirement and to withdraw from life, there is proof that social connection is good for baby boomers on both a mental and physical level.
Surrounding yourself with social support helps keep stress levels in check. This benefit alone prevents depression and feeds self-esteem. We all need to feel like we belong. As social animals, even introverts have a basic need to connect with others.
Physically, seniors who are isolated are at higher risk for stroke, high blood pressure and coronary disease. As if that is not frightening enough, less social contact with others weakens cognitive abilities and increases the likelihood of developing dementia.
Now that we have established important reasons for staying active socially, let’s identify some strategies for creating and nurturing a healthy social life.
1. Investigate and join local social groups of interest
Many cities and towns have an impressive number of social activities catering to seniors. Check out libraries, community centers and churches that host meetups for seniors. Bingo is one event that comes to mind.
What makes these activities even more attractive is that free food is also involved in many meetings. It is common for a low-cost or free meal to be served at these events. Socializing for free definitely sweetens the deal for boomers on a fixed budget.
Volunteering offers an excellent social outlet for seniors. With more time on your hands, the idea of volunteering becomes more doable. Volunteerism allows boomers an opportunity to contribute to the cause of their choice.
Many boomers have acquired an expertise that others want to learn. Mentoring younger generations as a specific way to volunteer your brain power provides a rewarding way to leverage your specific talents and knowledge base for the benefit of others.
3. Nurture your relationships
At times, we’ve all been guilty of neglecting important relationships in our life. Demanding careers and family obligations can take a toll on friendships. Retirees are typically in a better position to nurture relationships than in earlier years.
Reach out to your social network freely and often. Be sure to acknowledge your friend’s birthday. Meet for lunch or coffee. Go for a walk. There are many different ways to connect in meaningful ways.
Granted, COVID has made personal connections a bit more complicated, limiting personal connections. Thankfully, technology comes to the rescue and makes it easy to talk with each other so we don’t lose touch.
4. Get involved in a hobby that encourages social interaction
Certain hobbies offer an excellent way to meet new people. Shared passions have always provided natural liaisons. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you are likely to find a group that works well for you.
Below are some recommended hobbies you might be interested in.
Sports hobbies offer an excellent way to meet new people and form lasting bonds. Regular practices and exciting games accelerate relationships making it easier to connect, even for shy people who struggle with anxiety when thrown into social settings.
Few things bring people together in a positive way like music. Join a choir or band. Learning to play a new instrument is an excellent way to meet new people and form lasting relationships forged through a mutual love of music.
Choir groups are an even larger group typically, offering many more possibilities to experience different personalities and possible friendship connections. Anyone who has participated in a choir or band can attest to the strong bonds forged during the emotional experience of making music in a group.
Avid readers who enjoy reading find book clubs are a delightful way to make new friends. This type of club is a common way to meet thoughtful friends who like to review the merits of specific authors and their latest contributions. It is rare that any sizeable metropolitan area does not have several book groups to join.
Depending on the group, dinner and wine is also served at many meetings. Introverts and extroverts alike find this kind of organized event an excellent way to socialize.
Some people believe that we all have at least one good book in us. As we grow older and more reflective about life’s adventures, it is not uncommon for many boomers to seriously consider writing a book. Writer’s groups are prevalent, offering an excellent and interesting way to share the writing life with others.
There are many critique groups in most larger cities. Online groups are also available for people in more rural locales who don’t have a group meeting in their area. One of the main benefits of writer’s groups is the feedback that writer’s desperately crave as they try to improve their writing.
5. Consider moving to a 55+ retirement community
As we grow older, it can seem difficult to socialize with people automatically when you are no longer working in an office setting. Empty nesters don’t fit into their previous life filled with children’s sports and play dates that force adults together.
That’s why a 55+ community represents an excellent opportunity for seniors to meet and socialize with people their own age. These types of communities typically have a lot of planned activities welcoming everyone in the neighborhood. Baby boomers and older generations find a strong natural connection with people in their own age group. It is easier to relate to people who are in the same stage of life.
Baby boomers reaching a certain age find their natural social connections dwindling after retirement unless they make an effort to socialize. The mental and physical health benefits of social connection mean social stimulation is critical for a healthy and happy life.
Boomers should prioritize their social life by joining groups, attending community activities, playing sports and nurturing relationships.