Many seniors want to boost social connections. This desire is healthy and supports optimal health. There are 5 specific steps we can take to build connection, foster a sense of belonging, and boost social interactions.
Let’s look at the practical steps you can take. These steps are easy, fast, and affordable. They do not require high-tech equipment or advanced technology skills. Rather, they require a ‘can-do attitude. Let’s get going.
Understand The Problem
While it is tempting to jump to solutions, one of the first steps to take is to understand the problem. It may not be pretty or delightful. However, when you face the problem, you will be motivated to find solutions.
Recent studies link loneliness and social isolation to extremely negative effects on health.
While we actively know that our attitudes and activities affect our health, we may not ‘connect the dots.’ You know that smoking is bad for your health, obesity is hard on your heart, and being inactive is a very bad idea—yet it’s possible to still underrate the impact of loneliness.
Tip: Read up on the negative impacts of loneliness and social isolation. You’ll get inspired to take action.
Explore Personal Experience
With the research looming in your mind, it’s time to explore something a little closer to home. What is your personal experience?
Do you feel close to family and friends? Do you feel happy being on your own? Do you have someone to talk to about your feelings?
How often do you talk with other people? Do you go for days without speaking to another person? Is television your main company? How do you feel about your current level of social contact?
If you prefer, write your thoughts down in a journal. Or, perhaps talk this over with a friend or family member.
Tip: Take time to notice what you are feeling and thinking.
Talk To A Professional
If you find that you’re feeling isolated or anxious, you are not alone. Some caring professionals can help. Often, confidential consultation can provide you with options that are available online or in your area.
When you talk with a professional, you can make a treatment plan for anxiety that can help you enjoy a higher quality of life. It’s good to know that what you may be experiencing is not your only choice.
Tip: Reach out and talk with a professional about your experiences.
Strengthen Existing Relationships
Over recent months and years, you may have moved locations. Perhaps your best friend, neighbor, or relatives have also changed locations. Frequently, physical shifts create new patterns of relating.
If it’s been a while since you talked with a friend or relative, reach out. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Send an email. Send a note. Draw a picture. Pick up the phone.
While it may seem like it’s been a long time, close friends are often just busy, preoccupied, or caught up in their hectic lifestyles. Hearing from a close friend is always a welcome treat.
Tip: Make a list of the friends and family you want to contact. Start with one.
Make New Friends
What’s on the menu for making new friends? It is easier than you might imagine. Take a look at your neighbors, associates, and colleagues. Perhaps you already have an idea who you’d like to get to know better.
If so, make a plan to get together for coffee or tea. Set up a time to meet. Plan an activity you both enjoy such as going for a walk or enjoying a movie.
If you aren’t sure who you’d like to befriend, experiment. Join a community art class. Try out a new relaxation class. Explore a course in mindfulness, tai chi, or yoga. Volunteer for your favorite charity or community service. Without even trying, you’ll meet like-minded people to share your time with. In the process, you just may make some new friends who enjoy your current interests.
Tip: Pick one step towards making new friends. Take that step today.
Wrapping It Up
At every stage in life, make an effort to maintain existing relationships, get support, build new friendships, and strengthen your social connections. Today is a good day to start.