Often as we get older, family members move on with their lives and might even move away to follow a particular career path. Friends seem to fall away as well, with some of them moving, going into retirement communities, traveling or simply being too ill to socialize.
It is important to be social with others at any age. However, once one’s career comes to an end, previous co-workers tend to go their way as well. Many seniors find themselves with a lot more private time at home and although this can be a nice change, it can also lead to serious problems. If the highlight of your day is watching sports or a soap opera on television, you’re headed for trouble!Being alone for extended periods of time with no social interaction other than the odd family get-together can lead to not just loneliness, but also deep depression, which can then lead to coping activities like drinking alcohol and in the worst case scenario – suicide. Another downside to being alone too long is that when you do go out, you will likely have trouble coping with certain social situations.
Socializing is an important part of life and should not be overlooked. Just because you might be over 50, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy the company of others at a local club for people your age. Harvard researchers conducted a 13-year study on nearly 3,000 seniors and found that even such social activities as attending church or playing bingo, helped people not only cope but also to lead happier lives. Studies have shown that social activities reduce stress. Having friends makes one feel valuable and even needed.
As well, a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that social contacts stimulate the mind. Overall, continuing to be social with others will keep you healthier both mentally and physically, which in turn will add years to your life.
No one is suggesting that you go out dancing, if you don’t feel able but you can still meet friends for lunch, a little shopping and/or a movie. Call up a friend for a chat or just get out in the fresh air and take a nature walk together. You may also want to consider joining in with social activities at your local church or with an organization of interest to you, such as one on the arts, writing or other subject. If you are more active, you could join a bowling team or swim at a local recreation center. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you before you find yourself in front of your computer or television for too long. And remember that going grocery shopping doesn’t count as an afternoon out!