Millions of older Americans suffer from chronic loneliness that can be an impediment to living well into retirement.
Joining an active senior living community, like Deupree House, is probably the best way to get out in the community and make lasting friendships. It can be difficult to find supportive social networks when you aren’t plugged into a retirement community, but these 2 easy steps can help you can break through social isolation no matter where you live.
At Deupree House, our volunteer outreach programs have provided a way for our residents to build lasting relationships within the Greater Cincinnati community. But there are still plenty of volunteer opportunities available to you as a senior, even if you don’t belong to a retirement community.
What better way is there to make new friends than to connect with others who share your interests as you serve the community?
Create the Good
The AARP is all about providing ways for older adults to enrich retirement living, and the Create the Good program offers American seniors volunteer opportunities that use common interests and life experience to address social issues in the community. Joining the program puts you in touch with like-minded individuals in your community—wherever your interests and passions may lie.
American Red Cross
You can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer no matter where you live or what your life’s occupation has been. It is the desire of individuals like you to get involved in the community that makes Red Cross disaster relief efforts, fundraisers, and community outreach successful.
Whatever your interests or skill set, you can find ways to use your expertise to build connections by helping your community. As part of the Senior Corps, older adults have the opportunity to mentor, coach, or befriend people in need while contributing time and experience to community projects and organizations.
Utilize the online resources of VolunteerMatch to find a nonprofit or other volunteer organization that needs your particular skills and expertise. Connect with a good cause in your community and start building new friendships.
2. Go online.
Sometimes, you just can’t find the motivation to go out, and that’s okay. Studies show that more and more frequently, older adults are using the internet as a way to find support and build meaningful relationships.
According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan and nonprofit “fact tank,” more than half of the American population over the age of 65 connects online. Email is still the go-to form of online communication for older adults, but, increasingly, seniors are turning to the connectivity offered by social media.
Social media usage among adults 65 and older grew a hundredfold between April 2009 and May 2010— leaping from 13% to 26%— as older adults begin to find more ways that social media can connect them with their family, friends, and even like-minded strangers.
YouTube can help you connect face-to-face across time and distances.
Have an inspiring message for the masses or a birthday wish for an out-of-state grandchild? All you need is a webcam and YouTube to make yourself heard. Once you have a YouTube channel you can create and upload video messages for friends, family, or anyone else you chose.
Twitter is a great way to stay up-to-date on the activities of friends, family, and causes.
This “real-time information network” can connect you to all the most interesting news, stories, and entertainment as it happens. You don’t even have to “tweet” yourself. Just follow the users that you find interesting.
Facebook brings instant connectivity to senior living.
Once you add users as “friends,” you’re able to follow their activity, hold conversations, and post pictures or messages on a friend’s wall (which is like a virtual bulletin board). If you’d like to extend your social network, all you need to do is join a group that shares a common interest. Looking for someone to talk to about your cat’s crazy antics? There’s a group for that.
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