Let’s face it, the heartbreaking reality is that loss is a part of life. A long life, a life well lived, a life of accomplishment, adventure, and romance — each is characterised by the cumulative burden of lost loved ones.
Your spouse, friends, siblings, even children can pass before you do, leaving a void where they used to be. Easing loneliness in old age is something we all need to work at.
Old age has rewards and challenges
With old age comes many rewards that younger generations covet — experience, perspective, wisdom, understanding — but, it’s not always easy to appreciate those things when there’s a burden that can be hard to shake.
We’re hardwired for social connection and the loss of it can have monumental impacts on our health. Some have even likened it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Because of this, one of the most important things you can do is give yourself time and space to figure out what you need and want from your retirement years. This understanding will help you take the next steps to build more social connections — meet new people, rekindle old flames, or maintain relationships with those still in your life.
Building and maintaining social connections can:
- Spark excitement and other positive feelings such as joy, hope, and amusement
- Warm your heart and allow you to reminisce
- Make room to receive support
- Add to your sense of belonging and purpose
Building new friendships can enable you to have fun conversations and experiences, but it also gives you a space to talk about, reflect on, and make sense of everything that’s happened in your life.
Why not try new things?
Once you’ve taken some time to think about what you want to get from your later years, the next step may be trying new things. There are plenty of hobbies you can take up for your health when you retire and there are ways of building a sense of community in all of them. Whether you just want to try something new or spend time doing something you’ve always loved, you’ll get to meet people who are interested in the same things.
Or, maybe you’d like to start volunteering? Volunteering is perfect for encouraging positive social interactions and giving back to the community. It’ll help you feel good and return a sense of purpose you may feel has been missing. There are also so many options for where to volunteer, that there’s flexibility in how you want to give your time and how much you want to give.
Whatever you choose to do, or not do, it’s important to remember that you never have to be alone. There’ll always be someone around who’s interested in hearing your story, sharing pleasant moments, or just enjoying your presence.