We’ve already talked about the importance of maintaining friendships and a social life to the wellbeing of everyone, especially elders. But, sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Let’s look at six ways we can help foster the social butterfly in our loved ones or ourselves:
- Volunteer: We’ve put this at the top of our list, because we believe it has an “amplified” benefit: volunteering doesn’t just help an organization or group of people it also helps the volunteer. The benefits of socializing this way become that much stronger because usually, the volunteer is also getting a boost from doing something good for someone else. It’s a win-win for everyone.
- Find or start a local, theme-based retiree group: It can be as casual or formal as you like, but the point is to gather with other people who share a common interest, on a regular basis. Breakfast and car talk weekly? Knitting for babies every Wednesday? Contra Dancing the third Sunday of every month? The possibilities and joys are endless.
- Keep in touch: Maybe your family doesn’t live nearby anymore. Or, maybe your closest friend moved across town. That does not mean you cannot connect—especially in this day and age. You can have a video call, email or make a good old-fashioned phone call. If computers intimidate you, ask a friend or family member to help you get more comfortable with the technology. The point is to stay in touch with those whom you love. Set up a weekly “date” or call them if ever you feel lonely. If your loved ones don’t know how you are feeling or what is going on in your life, they can’t help you get what you need and want to stay healthy and happy.
- Learn something new: You’ve heard it before, but that’s because it is true: we are never too old to learn. Perhaps there is something you’ve always wanted to do in life, but before now, there wasn’t the time or opportunity. Take a cooking lesson, or a language class. Learn a new trade or how to play an instrument. Or take that elective at the local college—many communities have lifelong learning centers where you can meet other retirees.
- Join a gym or fitness center: That may sound daunting to some, but exercise is as important or even more so, as we age. Luckily, Anchorage has many places that offer senior-appropriate exercise opportunities. AlaskaFit and Anchorage Yoga are two places you can start and feel confident that you’ll get a good workout in a safe community.
- Visit your senior center: Maybe you already do this, but maybe not. Senior centers are made for socializing and typically have many activities to choose from. Go check it out and if something isn’t for you the first time around, try a different activity. You may just find something and someone you really like!
Now go out there and be social!