When you were a young college-age student you had no problem making friends. It was also easy to connect with other parents while you were raising your growing kids. But now that you’re a bit older it seems that making new friends is not as easy as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. New friends and experiences are good for your brain.
Social isolation can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and the accompanying health complications of not getting enough exercise. It can also lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.
You may be happy that you’re staying in your own home as long as possible. You may even be planning for some in-home care assistance. If arranged it can put life back into your recreation activities by allowing you to more easily shop and plan for meals and get transportation for completing errands. But hiring an assistant may be a few years off. Until then, you’ll have to make the most of the resources you have.
Here are a few ways to inject some new companions into your life now to ensure you ward of the loneliness and isolation blues:
1Take a memoir writing class
Many local colleges and community centers offer creative writing courses for their students. If you have a large senior population in your area, you even be able to track down a specifically memoir-writing class. You’ll be able to converse with other participants, socialize, and make new friends, all while discussing both current and historical events and reminiscing about the past.
2Join a local book club
These can be easy to find by visiting your local library, or connecting with religious groups or other senior centers in your area. Look for flyers and advertisements wherever you buy or borrow your magazines and books. You can also search for local book clubs online through sites like Meetup.com and the AARP online community, to find groups that match your location and interests. If you’re a big fan of murder mysteries, search out other local fans of that genre. If you like historical biographies, hunt down other book club participants with the same interest. If you can’t find the perfect group, then be sure to start your own!
3Get a pet
If you don’t have one already, a pet – especially a dog – can be a great way to get out of the house and meet now people. When you’re out for your daily, walks both neighbors and strangers will stop to chat. It’s also a great way to strike up conversations at the local dog park or pet store. Not only that, but owning and caring for a pet has been proven to help us combat depression and feel loved and needed. If you can’t have a pet in your own home then make time to volunteer with your local no-kill animal shelter or consider being a dog walker or pet sitter for others who need an extra hand.
4Volunteer in your local community
Not all volunteer projects will break your back. If you’re knowledgeable on a certain subject consider private tuitions, or teaching classes at the local community center, to others just starting out working in similar fields. Museums, religious institutions, hospitals, and schools are always looking for volunteers. You can also connect with organizations in need online through websites like Volunteers of America, Volunteer Match, or Idealist, to provide your time, knowledge, and free help to organizations in need.
The best way to keep the mind and body active and the spirit young is to get out there and meet new people. Travel, pick up a new (or old) hobby, participate in local events, and stay active in your favorite types of activities. It can be hard at times – and certain activities can get more difficult to manage as we age – but it doesn’t mean we have to isolate ourselves. When we stay engaged and connected the world opens up and plenty of new and exciting opportunities come our way.