Staying Engaged, Connected After Retirement
By Lisa Baxter
Aging Services Specialist
It is highly beneficial for senior citizens to remain socially active when they retire this has been proven in countless studies and is really just common sense. We have all heard the stories of how “So and so retired and died right away.” For many of us, our careers were our focal point for our social interactions and the only way we got out of our chair and out of the house. COVID-19 changed that for a lot of people who ended up working from home.
Many of those people who are quite a bit younger than retirement age even found out that social isolation takes its toll on our mental and physical well-being. Couple social isolation with a decline in mental acuity and physical strength and you have a recipe for a fast track to an assisted living facility or a nursing home.
Besides the obvious pitfalls to being inactive and isolated, depression can kick in and exacerbate symptoms of low self-esteem and pain from age related ailments such as high blood pressure, arthritis, malnutrition, chronic lung disease and impaired mobility.
What are our options for staying socially active? What if I am not outgoing by nature? What if I have physical restrictions and require assistance to get from point A to point B?
There are now more creative ways today than ever before to remain involved, offer a feeling of connectedness and improve self-worth. More than 75 percent of Seniors said that “lack of companionship” was one of the biggest things they face on a day-to-day basis. Here are a few ideas on how to stay socially connected: 1. Volunteer at senior centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, schools and churches and other civic organizations. (feelings of isolation and self-value) 2. Become a board member on a nonprofit board or other organizational board (feelings of self-worth as a contributing part of society) 3. Go to the local senior center (connect with people who are experiencing similar situations) 4. Attend church services of your choice (increases social connectedness and faithbased strength to overcome) 5. Regular breakfast, lunch or dinner outings with friends (increases adequate nutrition) 6. Cards or game groups (these further improve memory and cognition) 7. Participate in art gatherings or art therapy 8. Exercise groups (maintain, improve or slow aging declines in physical ability and reduce falls) 9. Regularly visit or be visited by family members (having a support system as we age and may need more assistance is key) 10. Fishing and nature walks (offers physical activity with stress relief, strengthens the immune system 11. Learn a new skill. Who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks? This old dog thinks that is hogwash!
12. Sign up for a senior companion through your Area Agency on Aging 13. Work part time at a school, kids have a lot to learn from seniors and seniors get a younger generation’s perspective (invigorates, energizes) 14. Assist with a community garden 15. Join a scrapbook club (reminiscing - life stories are important) 16. Read stories to children at the library (mental acuity and connectedness) 17. Take classes such as cooking or gardening with the Extension office 18. Join a choir There are so many ways to connect. Seniors and their families should assess whether they have gotten into a rut staying at home and crack the shell of isolation and let the sunshine in.
The Area Agency on Aging can provide resources and ideas to help you maintain independence and enjoy a socially active life. Give us a call at 800-551-3191.