When you retire from work, you retire from pressure, stress, deadlines, performance reviews, boring meetings, and that annoying guy down the aisle 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 at San Francisco revealed that 43% of the people they 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 into 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 join a local service club such as Lions or Kiwanis.
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Join an activity group – or start one.
This could be a hiking group or a group that walks up and down the halls of shopping malls. There are groups that take day trips to local points of interest. A local gym may offer exercise groups for yoga, aerobics, water aerobics, and more that are targeted for seniors.
Join a local chorus or band.
Most communities have local choruses and bands that welcome people of all ages and ability levels. Don’t worry if it’s been years since you have sung or played your instrument. You will be surprised at how quickly your skills return.
Pursuing an artistic endeavor is an excellent way to nourish your creativity as well as providing a way to meet others.
Call, write to or visit a friend every day.
Today, it is easier than ever to reconnect with friends from all stages of your life using social media tools such as Facebook.
While social media provides a means for initial contact and surface-level interaction, you can cultivate more meaningful connections with people by calling them, writing a personal letter or email or, if they are local, getting together occasionally.
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 a little bit of effort, you can discover or create a variety of physical activities, mentally stimulating activities, and fulfilling activities that involve meaningful interaction with other people.
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