We all feel lonely sometimes and that can be especially true for adults over the age of 65. Loneliness can become more than just a feeling, loneliness is associated with physical and mental health conditions that can have negative impacts on our overall health such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and dementia.
Here are 10 tips to add more social activity into your life to prevent feelings of loneliness.
Volunteering makes a difference in your community and can help fight loneliness by connecting you to the world around you. One place you can look to find local opportunities is at volunteermatch.org.
Spend time with your pet (or someone else’s)
Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and ease loneliness.
Join a club or activity group
Connect to people through local community activities such as book clubs or hiking groups. One resource is Meetup.com for finding communities of similar interests and hobbies. You can also check with your local library or senior community center.
“Socializing stimulates brain chemicals and hormones that boost your mood, your calmness and your cognition – your brain’s mental activity. Social connections can also help strengthen the immune system, improve our physical wellbeing and reduce chronic conditions. Which is to say that social connectedness can improve our health and happiness. The broader your social network, the more people you interact with, the more people who might be able to help you when you are feeling lonely. Those connections can also offer helpful information and other ways of thinking about things going on in your life.” – Dr. Terry Lee, CHPW Senior Behavioral Health Director
Go for a walk
Exercise has been shown to cause happy feelings and make you feel better.
Call a friend or family
Many older adults feel hesitation in reaching out to family or friends when they are feeling lonely. Even phone or video calls may help reduce loneliness and benefit your mental health.
Learn something new
Learning a new language or a new skill might help you feel better. And as part of a class, you may meet new people.
Also, check with your health plan, they may have community support or programs to help. For Example, CHPW Medicare offers a Family on Demand program on some of their Medicare Advantage plans that provides up to 60 hours a year of companion care that can provide help around the house, rides to appointments or just a conversation partner.
Write Down Gratitude
Daily gratitude can reduce loneliness and improve health in older adults. An example of this could be to write down five things you are grateful for each day.
Read a Novel
Following the journey of new characters can help you learn how different people think and feel. This helps you get out of your own mindset. Visit to your local library for their recommended picks shelf.
Fill your house with sound
Music, podcasts, opening your windows to hear the birds and turning on your favorite TV show all ways to fill your living arrangement with sound.
Get some support if you need it
If you’re struggling with loneliness and you don’t know what to do, you might want to seek professional help. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how you are feeling.