(Editor’s note: Welcome to the sixth installment of the Boomer Goals Series, which will dig deeper into topics facing the “Baby Boomer” Generation. Check out the first installment, about the importance of giving back in retirement, here and check out the second installment, on maintaining good health into retirement, here, the third installment, on the ins and outs of phased retirement, here, and the fourth installment, on the myth of declining mental acuity, here, and the fifth installment, on making friends during retirement, here!)
Many dream about retirement and no longer having to go to work every day. It’s a time when we can finally pursue all those things for which we never seemed to have enough time. But despite its allure, retirement can also have its challenges. Certainly, not going into the office has its appeal, but the office is where we made some pretty special friendships over the years. Because of this, some retirees find themselves struggling with loneliness and social isolation in retirement. Their existing social network at work no longer exists, and they don’t know how to create a new one.
Avoiding loneliness after retirement is something each of us should consider. Being proactive in this regard is important because social isolation in retirement is linked to several health conditions. In fact, loneliness is a health risk factor for depression and anxiety as well as heart disease, obesity, and cognitive decline. Therefore, investing in activities that help us stay connected with others can promote better health and wellness. With this in mind, the following include 10 great ways for avoiding loneliness after retirement. By choosing a few, you’ll be much likely to feel alone and much healthier in the process.
- Volunteer in the Community – One of the best ways in avoiding loneliness after retirement is to become active in your community. Volunteering for community nonprofits and civic organizations can not only introduce to a new social network. But it can also be incredibly rewarding and self-fulfilling. Likewise, there are many ways you can become involved in community projects. Find one that best suits you!
- Attend Educational Courses – One of the best ways to keep the mind active in retirement is to invest in lifelong learning. Similarly, one of the easiest ways to prevent isolation in retirement is by attending educational courses. Community colleges and local universities are great resources when it comes to meeting new friends. Plus, educational activities has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function.
- Join Community Groups and Clubs – So, you’re finally retired and can do all those activities about which you dreamed. So, why not join a club or group that shares your interests? This is also one of the best ways in avoiding loneliness after retirement. You can meet others who share your passions and enjoy it in the process. From book clubs, to garden clubs, to other fun hobbies, clubs can also allow less isolation in retirement.
- Enroll in Fitness Classes and Gyms – Physical activity and exercise are among some of the most important activities in older age. These activities give us energy, prevent many illnesses, and even enhance our mood. Physical activity similarly improves memory and cognitive performance. Likewise, they can also be important activities in avoiding loneliness after retirement. Group fitness classes and gym memberships provide great opportunities to meet new people. As a result, this should be a common pursuit for those looking to escape social isolation in retirement.
- Become a Mentor – Just because you no longer work doesn’t mean you don’t have important insights and skills to share with others. Mentoring youth or others in the community offers a way for you to give back while being social. In many communities, schools, colleges, and even some workplaces welcome such mentoring activities. These types of activities not only provide a strong sense of purpose, but they also deter social isolation in retirement.
- Join a Travel Group – Many people cannot wait to start seeing the world once they’ve retired. But for some, traveling solo may not be ideal if avoiding loneliness after retirement is a goal. One way to solve this dilemma is to join a group of fellow travelers on your adventures. The experiences will serve as a means to bond with new acquaintances while escaping social isolation in retirement. Similarly, travel tours at your destinations may also be considered in this regard.
- Work Part-time – Going from full-time employment to a life of leisure in retirement is not for everyone. It may initially sound appealing, but many retirees enjoy working even if it’s for fewer hours each week. If this describes you, then another great way in avoiding loneliness after retirement may involve part-time work. This can provide an immediate social network that can help fill the void of your old job. And it can also provide greater sense of purpose as well.
- Host Neighborhood Events – Sometimes, finding new social activities can be difficult. Some may not fit your schedule, and others may not meet specific needs. If that’s the case, then arrange your own social events. Hold neighborhood dinners at your home, or arrange a mini-block party on a Saturday afternoon. These types of activities are wonderful ways to better know your neighbors. And likewise, there a great way to avoid social isolation in retirement.
- Create a Social Schedule – For some people, physical limitations in mobility may prevent participation in some of the above suggestions. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ideas for avoiding loneliness after retirement for them as well. One easy way is to create a social schedule for communicating with friends and family. Writing letters, texts, emails and cards on a regular basis helps keep you connected. Also, online educational courses and videoconferencing are great tools to deter social isolation in retirement as well. By creating a social schedule for these activities, you invest in your long-term social network.
- Become Active in Church – Faith-based organizations in the community are excellent resources when it comes to avoiding loneliness in retirement. Most churches have a number of activities that you might find interesting. They also have community outreach projects where church members can get involved and meet others. For many retirees, these activities play an important role in their after-retirement lives. Thus, these strategies can also help in avoiding loneliness after retirement.
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