Tips on combating loneliness for older people

Apr 25, 2014 by

There are many reasons to celebrate reaching a ripe old age. We become wiser, more relaxed and generally more cheerful as we advance in years. No longer under pressure to perform or provide for others, our twilight years are a special time to enjoy and savour.

Unfortunately, many people find that on reaching their senior years, they are left alone. Much loved partners may die, divorce strikes, or other circumstances can mean that life isn’t as busy as it once was. Once the regular nine to five of the work place is in the past, the routine contact with colleagues ends abruptly. For those whose careers dominated their lives, it can become a huge shock to suddenly find themselves with nothing to do and no-one to see.

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Keeping in touch with friends can help combat loneliness
Image: flickr.com/photos/meaganjean

Retirement plans

It makes sense that, prior to retirement; plans are put in place to prevent any problems with feelings of loneliness or isolation. Yes, at first there will be a honeymoon period where late mornings and even later evenings can be enjoyed, as well as the odd well-earned foreign holiday. But once the dust has settled, it will be time to adjust to a new routine, a new phase of life that can be equally rewarding, exciting and fun.

Many people have a fantasy view of what retirement is like, picturing moving to a home near the coast and living out their twilight years in the sun. But in reality, is pulling up roots and moving somewhere new the best thing to do? When you stop work, it doesn’t mean you have to cease all contact with the friends you have come to know over the years. Equally, there will be more time to spend seeing friends and family who live close by. If you moved to another part of the country, it would mean starting from scratch meeting new friends – something that is not always that easy. Think long and hard before cutting all ties with your roots – is it really the right thing to do?

Put yourself out there

Studies suggest that loneliness poses a greater risk to elderly health than obesity. Loneliness is known to lower our ability to fight off illness, making us more vulnerable to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Bearing this in mind, it is important to put in place an anti-loneliness action plan to ensure you don’t put yourself into this at risk category.

Start off in the local community. The library is always a good place to start if you want to discover things to do in the local area. Voluntary work is a good way of regularly seeing others, and it is possible you could use expertise of experience from your pre-retirement profession to help assist others. Voluntary work is a very popular way of combining the need to feel useful and make a contribution to society, as well as satisfying personal needs for social contact.

At the library, in local newspapers or online, find out about local clubs in your area that deal in subjects you find interesting. Gardening associations, for example, will often have guest speakers and take members on visits to famous gardens, often by luxury coach travel. What better way to spend the day than with a group of like-minded friends, touring countryside and gardens in a comfortable coach for hire from companies such as Britannia Coaches?

Physically and socially active

Consider taking up a sport or physical hobby or activity to keep you fit. Team sports are great for morale and will have you regularly meeting up with people sharing a common goal. Alternatively, think about joining a gym, taking dance classes, playing Bridge or learning a new language. In retirement it is always good to be setting yourself new challenges, try and make sure there is a good balance between solitary and group pursuits.

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Keeping active will help.
Image: flickr.com/photos/ronniegavelin

Go online

We all need love, no matter what age – and advances in internet dating mean that finding a partner is no longer so difficult. Today it is easy to find online dating agencies that specialise in matching up older people and with their detailed and thorough procedures, finding a suitable mate is quicker and easier. Don’t dismiss online dating as something for the younger generation, it can work for anyone, no matter what vintage they are.

After a long, hard working life, earning a salary and bringing up a family, retirement should feel like a step forward into a fresh and rewarding phase. Don’t allow loneliness to eat away at your chances of happiness – take responsibility for your own mental and physical well-being by stepping out into the fray. Be brave and bold and seize the day – you won’t regret it for a moment…

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