As we age, circumstances in our lives often change. We retire from a job, friends move away or health issues convince us to eliminate or restrict driving. When changes like these occur, we may not fully realize how they will affect our ability to stay connected and engaged and how much they can impact our overall health and well-being.
We need social connection to thrive no matter our age but recent research shows that the negative health consequences of chronic isolation and loneliness may be especially harmful for older adults.
Here are some actions you may want to consider taking to help you stay ahead of the “connection curve:”
- Nurture and strengthen existing relationships
- Schedule a time each day to call a friend or visit someone.
- Meet your neighbors, young and old.
- Use social media like Facebook to stay in touch with long-distance friends or write an old-fashioned letter.
- Stay physically active and include group exercise in the mix, like joining a walking club.
- Take a class to learn something new and, at the same time, expand your circle of friends.
- Revisit an old hobby you’ve set aside and connect with others who share your interests.
- Volunteer to deepen your sense of purpose and help others.
If you feel you are currently socially isolated and grappling with chronic loneliness, reach out to your family, friends, and neighbors or explore the resources described above to connect with others. Recognizing that you feel isolated or have trouble maintaining a social network that meets your needs is the first step to improving your quality of life.
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