Growing older does not mean social isolation is inevitable. On the contrary, the older adult population has the capacity to be quite socially connected. There are quite a few reasons why this is true. Unlike working adults, most of the older population 65+ has entered retirement, now having the freedom to enjoy extracurricular activities with their social network. Secondly, the older population often lives apart from children and grandchild, sometimes widowed and find their social connectedness as a new lease on life and second opportunity to enjoy friends and their community without the responsibility of being confined to a strict schedule and routine.
Although the social networks may shrink over the years and become less superficial, the benefits of having a high quality, closely related group can offer support and help alleviate the burden of isolation, sadness, and feelings that are sometimes associated with the elderly population.
Some of the ways that older populations stay connected to their social network is through local community centers. Most communities have established a community center where senior populations gather for exercise, games, crafts, media resources useful in advancing with society, among other things. Most assisted living facilities provide a variety of resources in-house to aid their residents in feeling a sense of community.
Volunteering is another means of keeping seniors connected to the community and providing a way to stay vibrant and purposeful. Many organizations welcome the senior population as volunteers. When the older adult population volunteers it can help bridge the gap between generations and provides a chance to share useful life lessons. Older adults who volunteer have lowered risked of dementia according to National Institute on Aging. While volunteering the brain is more active and the body is more likely to experience some type of physical movement, with proven positive outcomes.
So, if you are in retirement or have a loved one who is retired or widowed and could benefit from reconnecting with their community, do your research. Find a local senior community center, contact your social network through social media, calls, texts. Reach out to your local libraries, hospitals, nonprofits, school systems and organizations that could benefit from the experience and wisdom of our older population. Help those you love embrace aging with a positive mindset and challenge to enjoy their golden years, socially connecting with their peers and community. Keep in mind if you find this difficult, there are trained counselors and therapist in your community who can assist you in developing that mindset and addressing the cognitive barriers to living a fulfilling life as seniors.