When you retire from work, you retire from pressure, stress, deadlines, performance reviews, boring meetings and that annoying guy down the hall who spends all day making personal phone calls that everyone can hear. But you will also leave behind something that is more important than you may realize: human contact. While most of your colleagues probably aren’t close, personal friends, just being around people provides a certain level of socialization that you will miss once you retire.
A recent study by the University of California–San Francisco revealed that 43 percent of the people surveyed who were over 60 years old reported feeling lonely on a regular basis. Two-thirds of the adults who said they were lonely live with a spouse or other partner, which indicates that you shouldn’t rely upon your spouse to be your sole source of companionship.
While you work, social contact happens easily and automatically. After you retire, you can still find plenty of ways to stay socially engaged, but it requires a little more initiative on your part. Here are seven ways to stay socially active and prevent loneliness after you retire.
Whether it’s an art class, a cooking class, a language class or a salsa dancing class, you are bound to meet other people with similar interests. Your local community center or library probably offers inexpensive classes covering a wide variety of topics. Your local college may have programs in which seniors can attend classes that have empty seats on a non-credit basis.
Join or organize a club.
A book discussion group, an investment club, a restaurant-of-the-week club, a wine-tasting club or other group based around a common interest will bring people together. Most of these groups will provide mental stimulation as well. Check the activity calendar at your local community center or use an online tool such as Meetup.com to find an existing group or start one of your own. Toastmasters clubs provide an excellent venue to meet new people, share your knowledge and experiences with others and become a better speaker.
One of the best ways to find a sense of purpose and happiness is to help others who are less fortunate. Volunteering is also a great way to add more culture to your life and meet people at the same time. You can become a docent or tour guide at a museum or an usher at a concert hall, for example. If you have business or teaching skills, you can become a mentor. You can also join a local service club such as Lions or Kiwanis.
Invite people over.
You don’t have to throw lavish, expensive parties. You can simply invite a few people over for card games or board games, a potluck or a movie night. Don’t worry if your home is modest or if it’s not spotless from floor to ceiling. People are coming to enjoy spending time with you and the other guests, not to inspect your home.
Loneliness doesn’t have to be a characteristic of your retirement years. With some possibility thinking and effort, you can discover or create a variety of physical activities, mentally stimulating activities and fulfilling activities that involve meaningful interaction with other people.
Credits: Dave Hughes