Unfortunately, senior isolation and loneliness are relatively common. Millions of seniors struggle to get the social activity they need to maintain mental wellness. As the holiday season gets closer, seniors can feel lonelier than ever. According to a National Institute on Aging study, more than 20% of seniors suffer from loneliness. There are many reasons why seniors might feel isolated or lonely.
Seniors may have lost a spouse or close friends. They may live far away from family or be unable to get out and about like they used to. Whatever the reason, finding ways to combat isolation and loneliness is essential.
Three ways to combat loneliness
Seniors can fight loneliness by taking intentional steps to create community. Three of the top ways to combat loneliness include:
- Scheduling meaningful activities regularly
- Engaging in hobbies
- Joining new social groups
While these are not the only ways to fight loneliness, they can serve as the first steps toward creating connections.
One of the most effective ways to fight senior loneliness is through scheduling. It can be easy to fall into a routine that doesn’t include a lot of social interaction. However, scheduling activities involving friends, family or community members removes the guesswork. Building social time into your schedule makes it automatic, and regularly spending time with others will ensure that feelings of loneliness do not take over. Examples of activities you can schedule include:
- Game night
- Book clubs
- Walking clubs
- Swimming class
- Art class
There are no limits to the types of groups, or activities seniors can participate in. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask a local chamber group or look in the newspaper for local opportunities.
Start a new hobby
Senior hobbies are often associated with alone time, but plenty of senior hobbies involve social interaction. Experimenting with new hobbies that involve a social element is a wonderful way to discover new passions and combat loneliness in seniors. Hobbies are a great way to keep the mind active, stay engaged and participate socially simultaneously. For older adults in senior living communities, trying a new hobby with a friend is never more than a few steps away. Examples of group hobbies include:
- Writing exercises
- Playing an instrument
- Arts and crafts
Trying a new hobby with others is not just an excellent way to avoid feelings of loneliness, but it can push you outside your comfort zone and encourage you to try things you wouldn’t usually try. If you already have a hobby, it can be a great way to meet new people and connect with new friends. For example, sports like golf and tennis present an easy opportunity to match up with peers and connect naturally over a shared interest.
Commit to a social group
As seniors age, friends can move away, partners may pass away and family dynamics can change. All these factors mean seniors rely more on friends for regular social activity. It can seem uncomfortable to meet new friends as an older adult, but social groups can be helpful and healthy for seniors.
There are many ways to join or start a social group, including interest-based clubs or joining an event in your community. Church groups and volunteering are other good ways to connect with people with whom you likely already share common interests.
Once you join a social group, commit to being an active part of it and partaking in regular activities. Involvement in a social group can remedy feelings of loneliness in seniors and contribute to improved mental well-being. It can also reintroduce a sense of purpose that may otherwise be missing in retirement.
Combating loneliness at Buckner senior living communities
At Buckner Retirement Services, we understand the seriousness of senior loneliness, and we design our lifestyle programs to be as social as possible. Our goal is to provide seniors with opportunities to interact and engage with other residents as much as possible. We have many ways for seniors to connect and confront any loneliness they might be feeling.
We offer regular social events and outings and have a vibrant community life program. Combating loneliness in seniors sometimes requires a group effort, and our staff is up to the task.