Life as an elderly individual is different for everyone. Maybe, you’re in a senior living facility or you choose to live in your own home. You’ve lived a noteworthy life. You have worked, created a family, and hopefully traveled to all the destinations you wished. It seems like you have completed all the stages of life that have made you who you are today. I’m sure this means you have more wisdom and insight to share with others.
Realistically, getting older can be very lonely if you don’t prioritize connecting with your friends and family that care for you. Tending to your psychological needs can be extremely important during this time. In fact, psychological studies show that social relationships can profoundly influence well-being across the life course. In this article, we will discuss the importance of social connections as you retire and age.
Family is meant to support and care for you when you are at your best and your worst. “Family connections can provide a greater sense of meaning and purpose as well as social and tangible resources that benefit well-being” ( Umberson & Montez, 2010). As we age, our physical bodies are less strong and we lose muscle mass–this can lead to trouble moving around or driving to appointments. Fortunately, if we lean on the support of our family we can use their assistance to ensure we are safe and cared for.
As individuals age, there may be a feeling of loss of independence. Although this can be a difficult transition to cope with, knowing you have the support of your family can make the world of a difference. Whether this includes your children, grandchildren, wife, or relative, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
If we look back historically, humans have always been social creatures. In the past, we see humans formed tribes and confided in them. This phenomena has not changed in present times. Connecting with others is crucial in every portion of our life – especially retirement.
If you have grandchildren, you can plan a weekly visit with them. Being around them will give you a new perspective from the lens of a child. You can share stories and wisdom with them. For example, if your grandchildren have developed bad habits, like thumb sucking, you can help them conquer the habit by purchasing a thumb sucking glove and giving them the encouragement they need! Additionally, you can offer to babysit them when their parents need it. Sometimes, we all need a little bit of child laughter in our lives!
A great way to bond as a family is to play board games! Bring out your favorite board game or puzzle and play with your children and grandchildren. Additionally, you can show them old photos and albums as they grew up. This is another great way to bond with your loved ones. By finding shared activities you all love to do, time will pass quickly!
Whether you have the opportunity to connect with others virtually or in person, community is critical for a positive mindset. When you are interacting with friends or family, you can experience laughter and activities together. Do some research in your community for elderly groups you can become a part of. Meetup is a great resource for finding similar individuals. This is a great time to find new hobbies or focus on hobbies you’ve loved all your life. Some great activities you can participate in socially include: golf, sewing, tea, book club, gardening, recycle programs, or even crossword puzzles. You can try contacting some of your friends and start a weekly book club! The possibilities are endless.
There are many opportunities to volunteer in your local community. Maybe, you’ve stopped working and you are feeling unfulfilled. Volunteering is a great way to feel like you’re giving back and filling your day with something positive. Some great places to volunteer are the library, hospital, museums, and food banks. One study found that 70% of elderly people who were experiencing depression saw a decrease in those symptoms after volunteering for a year.
Volunteering gives you an excellent opportunity to stimulate your brain and facilitate conversations with others. You will keep overall cognitive functions active which is important as we age!