Senior Loneliness and Depression – 9 Tips to Combat Isolation

Adopt a pet - Tips for Fending Off Loneliness as a Baby Boomer

Loneliness is a common problem for all age groups with NCBI reporting that 43% of Americans 60 and older admit to feeling lonely. Baby Boomers must make social connections a top priority if they want to live a high-quality life. Based on the negative impact that loneliness can have on both your mental and physical health, it makes sense to do what you can to ensure that you and your family members don’t suffer from isolation.

One major cause of loneliness for baby boomers is the loss of friends and family members to death. Retirement is also a contributor as the coworkers we socialize with daily are suddenly no longer around for casual social interactions that make us feel like part of a group.

While it is impossible to keep Father Time from marching on, there is some good news about preventing loneliness. You can take important steps to remedy feelings of isolation.

Below are steps you can employ to combat loneliness.

1. Make a concerted effort to nurture relationships.

Life gets busy and can sometimes get in the way of spending time with others. By prioritizing your friendships instead of putting them on the back burner, you are sure to become better friends and establish more regular get-togethers. Once your friends and family members realize that you are interested in spending more time with them, they will likely be more inclined to reach out on a regular basis.

2. Volunteer.

There are several good reasons to make the time to volunteer. Not only does it fulfill the basic need in all of us to help others, but it connects us with other do-gooders. There are few better ways to meet new people who share our values. New volunteer experiences offer a unique and powerful way to bond with other people.

It is impossible to feel lonely when you are spending your time doing something meaningful with other volunteers.

3. Schedule time every day to socialize by visiting a friend or family member in person or calling.

An excellent strategy for procrastinators is to commit to making social contact daily via the phone or in person. This type of regular commitment ensures that you never go more than 24 hours without connecting with another human being. Like so many things in life, it is far too easy to slide into loneliness and depression if you aren’t forcing yourself to take charge of your social well-being.

Once you begin interacting daily with others, it becomes easier. This is the type of routine that prevents loneliness.

4. Take a class.

Remember how easy it was to make friends in school? There’s absolutely no reason you can’t join a class and make new friends just like you did in childhood.

Common interests provide a natural pathway to easy conversation. Whether you decide on classes at the local community college or an art apprenticeship sponsored by a gallery artist, there are many different opportunities worthy of your time and energy.

Having something to look forward to makes life richer. Google the areas of interest that you’d like to learn more about and then sit back and make a decision about which is the most exciting possibility.

5. Meet your neighbors.

Baby boomers probably remember a simpler time when neighbors exchanged recipes and spent time at each other’s homes at backyard cookouts.

While contemporary obsessions with online activities can make it more difficult to get to know the neighbors, this source of friendship is worth pursuing. There are times in life when you are likely to wish you knew your neighbors.

Maybe you don’t cook and will never need to borrow a cup of sugar, but it is nice to know that the neighbors are looking out for you. When the power goes out or there is a creepy person in the neighborhood skulking around, it’s nice to feel like you can reach out to your buddies in the neighborhood to discuss life.

The convenience of a spontaneous cup of coffee or shared glass of wine with your neighbor can be a nice treat in a world where getting on someone’s schedule seems like too much of a hassle.

6. Join a club.

There are so many clubs to choose from that it might be hard to decide. Online signups and advertising make it easier than ever to find the perfect group for you. There are book clubs, gardening clubs and gamer clubs. It’s difficult to imagine a club that doesn’t exist.

Nothing promotes friendship like a shared passion. With so many clubs open to new members, being lonely is optional.

7. Prioritize exercising with others.

One of the best ways to meet other people is to join a gym or sports team. This type of social outlet is one of the surest ways to quickly connect with others while getting some exercise in the process. Don’t be surprised if there are celebratory drinks and dinners after winning the big game.

8. Participate in community projects.

If you keep your eyes open, it is easy to find community projects. Planting flowers in the neighborhood or painting the abandoned building to improve the area might provide an excellent pathway to new friends in your area.

9. Adopt a pet.

Pets are special four-legged friends that give unconditional love. Their companionship makes it difficult to feel lonely as you feed, nurture and laugh at their antics.

Anyone who has ever walked a cute puppy around the park knows how quick other walkers are to strike up a conversation. Animal lovers bond with other animal lovers easily.

Takeaway

Baby boomers are at risk of being lonely if they don’t take steps to prevent it. By making an effort to stay connected, seniors are also likely to increase their life expectancy.

Alice Goldstein
A Licensed Professional Counselor and Life Coach for over 25 years, Alice has written on a wide range of topics, touching on issues that matter most to seniors. Check out her article “Tips for Successful Marriages for Couples over 70” - a popular post on Marriage.com where Alice is an “Expert” author. Learn more about Alice Goldstein