Once our kids move out of the house and we retire from careers, it may seem as though our daily social opportunities shrink. If we’re not intentional about connecting with others outside our home, retirement can quickly become an isolating experience. We no longer have the same routines that made social interaction a natural occurrence, so we have to come up with new ways of connecting with others on a regular basis.
Michael Rambarose, President and CEO of Whitney Center, a Life Care community in Hamden, CT, explains that socialization is a vital part of living a healthy retirement life. “Social activity is a key factor in remaining physically, emotionally and cognitively healthy,” says Rambarose, “not to mention a great source of purpose and fulfillment. That’s why many seniors choose to retire to a community setting, where social interaction happens naturally and isn’t inhibited by mobility issues or health concerns. Even for seniors living on their own, it’s possible to enjoy the benefits of socialization if they make the effort to build meaningful connections during their retirement years.”
Socializing for Better Health
While it may not seem like being social influences health as much as diet or physical activity, socialization actually plays a huge role in combating the crippling health effects of isolation and encouraging us to get out and about and take better care of ourselves. According to Greater Good Magazine by Berkeley University, socialization can help seniors in a number of ways, including:
- Keeping the brain sharp and reducing the risk of cognitive decline
- Promoting an active lifestyle
- Combating feelings of isolation, which can lead to depression
- Adding a sense of purpose to daily life
- Promoting self-care through accountability
- Creating a social network for support
5 Ideas for Making Meaningful Connections
Despite the undeniable benefits of staying socially active throughout retirement, many seniors struggle to make the meaningful social connections that make life better and brighter. Unfortunately, social connections rarely just happen on their own – we usually have to make the first move or take steps toward opportunities that will make socializing more attainable.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, so depending on your location, health and local opportunities, you’ll need to decide what ways are best for you to make strong connections or meet new people. If going outside your comfort zone is holding you back from enjoying a meaningful social life, maybe ask a trusted friend or your partner to help you get started. The following are a few ideas for how to put yourself in the position to make meaningful connections with others:
- Dive into your passions – We all have something we’re passionate about, and if we’re creative, we can find ways to pursue those passions at any point in our lives. By diving into your favorite activities, you’re likely to find others who enjoy the same things. Even if your favorite hobbies are individual activities, such as painting or woodworking, try to find a way to do them with others. Join a class or rent out an hour a week at a public studio. Or, if nothing like that exists in your area, start your own club. Hang flyers in public places to get others interested in joining you for a book club or weekly fishing outings.
- Get involved with youth – Seniors have so much to offer the younger generations – and many seniors find that kids give them just as much. Think about how you could get involved with children or teens by volunteering at a local after-school program or church. Maybe you have a special talent and could start teaching lessons. Look to see where your community has a need and offer to help. You could become an important mentor to someone.
- Be a better neighbor – You don’t have to go far to make important social connections. Your neighborhood is a great place to start looking for social opportunities. If you have an elderly neighbor who is shut-in or lives alone, offer to bring them a meal and spend some time with them. Maybe there’s a young family on your block who could use a babysitter. By offering to help your neighbors in their daily lives, you can create a strong network of social support throughout your community.
- Stay active in your faith – For many, faith and religion are a significant part of life. Participating in your religious community offers many ways to stay social and make valuable relationships with others. If you haven’t been active in a while, going back to worship services or prayer meetings can open doors to new friendships.
- Think about senior living – Even if you’re not ready to move to a senior living community, trying out some of the life-enrichment programs at local communities can give you opportunities to meet new people and find a social group. Most senior living communities welcome guests to participate in programs to see if they like the community lifestyle. Take advantage of these opportunities, and you may even find that the social connections available make senior living more attractive.
Love Life Here
Making social connections throughout your retirement years may take some work. It’s not always easy to be vulnerable with new people at this stage in your life. However, when you make the effort, the rewards of meaningful connections are worth the risk.
At Whitney Center, our residents experience daily opportunities for social interactions and develop meaningful connections with neighbors who become best friends and staff who feel like family. We understand that important relationships enhance seniors’ quality of life, so we make social opportunities a priority. It’s just one of the many reasons seniors love life at Whitney Center.
If you’d like to learn more about staying social throughout your retirement years or are curious about life at Whitney Center, contact us today to speak to one of our friendly team members.
Discover Excellence in Senior Living.
At Whitney Center, you’ll find a distinguished senior living community where residents do what they love. Located in Hamden, Connecticut, Whitney Center combines all the cultural, educational and historical charms of the Greater New Haven area with the intricate details of daily life for active seniors. Whitney Center is a Life Care community, offering not just an unparalleled independent living lifestyle, but a full continuum of care services as well, including assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing care and memory care. Whitney Center even offers a home-based long-term care program, Thrive at Home, which connects seniors to the services they need to live well in their own home.
Choice. Freedom. Opportunity.
We believe that remaining engaged and striving for excellence builds a more meaningful life. That’s why residents experience a host of services and amenities, events and cultural opportunities and wellness programs designed to foster endless growth and personalized living. Backed by our first-rate hospitality and philosophy of continuous improvement, our residents are free to travel, learn, volunteer, set new goals and create the life they want to live.
Come Here to Thrive.
At Whitney Center, residents live in the midst of cultural arts and education and dignified connections to the greater community. Seniors thrive in pursuit of what brings them joy, with unlimited opportunities to create and contribute. And, with the confidence in quality care services available on site if health needs ever change, Whitney Center makes it possible for seniors to continue enjoying the freedom to embrace life at its fullest.