Remaining socially active is just as important as staying physically active as we age. Finding ways for seniors to stay socially active improves the quality of life, staves off depression and loneliness, boosts mood, helps prevent or slow Alzheimer's disease and other forms of age-related cognitive decline, and otherwise contributes to better health and more happiness.
But it's all too common for seniors who live on their own to become increasingly isolated. There are lots of reasons this happens. For just a few examples, retirement removes them from the workplace, physical challenges can interfere with getting out of the home, social circles shrink as people move and pass on, and fixed incomes sometimes don't allow for much leisure spending.
If you're a senior living on your own - or if you have a loved one who fits this description - look over the ways for seniors to stay socially active that are listed below. They won't all be practical for everyone, but anyone should be able to take advantage of a number of the ideas.
How to Stay Socially Engaged in the Senior Years
- Find local volunteer opportunities and get involved in a meaningful cause while meeting people with similar concerns and values.
- Check online for meet-ups or clubs dedicated to a hobby or area of interest.
- Go to events or take classes at the local community center or senior center. These are usually free or cheap.
- See what's happening at the local public library. It's another place to find free or low-cost classes, readings, and other events.
- Audit a class or two at a local community college or university on subjects of interest.
- Pick up the phone and chat with friends or family members-especially those who you don't get to see very often. Or, try Skype, FaceTime, or similar video chatting tools.
- Use social media to keep up with friends and family, have conversations, and see their photos.
- Take a part-time job or a volunteer position with a local nonprofit or religious center.
- Attend religious services.
- Babysit the grandchildren or a neighbor's kid once per week. It's a fun change of pace and something all parents appreciate.
- Arrange regular lunches, card games, or other social calls with one or more senior neighbors.
- Do your shopping with a neighbor or friend.
- Join a gym, the YMCA, or the JCC. These offer lots of ways for seniors to stay socially active as well as physically active.
- Talk to a travel agent or check around online for organized trips for singles or couples in your age group.
- Consider moving into a retirement community or assisted living facility with an active social program.