How building (and keeping) friendships improves your health and wellbeing
So you’ve reached an age where you’ve had people come and go from your life. Your children have grown and flown the nest. You’ve lost loved ones or perhaps you’ve been separated by circumstances or geography. Friends may have left the area, become grey nomads, or moved into retirement living.
Unless you have picked up the pieces and kept up your connections, your community involvement or grown new friendships, then it’s easy for your world to start to shrink. There’s nothing wrong with a little ‘alone time’ – in fact it’s good for you. It’s just when you stop accepting invitations, and spend more time in your favourite chair and less time outside that things can go downhill.
You find you lack motivation, and that your only companions are feelings of loneliness or sadness. It’s very easy from there to slip into a state of anxiety or depression which can erode your self-esteem and confidence. Suddenly you find yourself home alone all day doing crosswords and watching Home and Away!
Humans are meant to be connected, and many health and wellbeing studies have shown the mental and physical benefits of being socially active in retirement. Even if you consider yourself a loner, or you’re quite happy with your own company, it’s still important to have people in your life – especially in retirement.
People who have great social circles and are involved in their community are proven to be more physically active and feel happier and more supported in general. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be surrounded by people all day every day, but you do need to have some human interaction regularly.
Here are some easy ways to get the person-to-person contact you need to feel fulfilled, happy and uplifted once you’ve retired.
1) Reach out to your existing friends
It’s natural for people to lose contact over the years and fade out of our lives. If you’re fortunate to have wonderful friends in your life, reach out to them. They might just be waiting for your invitation!
Make the effort to organise a regular catch up, even if it’s just a cuppa or a chat over the phone. Find what brings you both joy and fill your days with more of that!
You might want to get out of the house and explore different cafés, take the dogs for a walk together, or have a monthly ‘date day’ to somewhere new. Having a commitment to a friend will also ensure you make it happen. You’ll have someone who is relying on you and vice versa.
2) Join a group and meet new people
One of the best ways to get involved and meet interesting people is to join a group. Meeting regularly to do an activity you enjoy will give you a real boost and offer something for you to look forward to.
Take a step into your community and you’ll discover a whole host of clubs, groups, meetings and events. Most towns have a club for just about everything, filled with members who love to socialise and share their expertise.
You can start by looking for common interest groups, or if you’re feeling adventurous, seek out groups that are a little outside your comfort zone whether that’s meditation, DIY car repairs, aqua aerobics or basket weaving! Think about what you loved in your youth, or just go for a new pursuit.
3) Create your own group
If being with groups of people lifts your spirits, then find ways to make that happen. If you like entertaining, then entertain. Pot luck or “bring a plate” dinners are wonderful (and inexpensive) and everyone can take turns at hosting. Movie nights (whether at home or at the cinema) are fun as you can dissect the film afterwards over a meal.
Invite friends to join you for activities you would usually do alone such as golf, fishing, walking or cycling – which by the way can be safer in numbers.
4) Try Facebook as a new way to keep you connected
More over 60’s than ever are using Facebook to keep up on family news, find long lost friends, send instant messages and chat via video. It doesn’t replace real human contact, but Facebook is an excellent way to connect and reconnect with your friends and family.
Many libraries or community centres offer classes and it doesn’t take long to learn the basics. You’ll be uploading your selfies in no time!
5) Book a group adventure
Travelling with a group is a smart way to go for retirees. It’s safer, cheaper, and everything is organised for you. There’s even a tour guide to keep you informed and entertained along the way.
You’ll find there are now many travel companies specialising in group travel for over 60’s. They give you the chance to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds who may just become life-long friends. And once you have Facebook down pat, you’ll be able to keep in touch with your new friends easily.
6) Volunteer your time
There’s no better way to feel connected than to offer your services and skills to do good for others. Local charities and groups are always putting the call out for volunteers – in fact most of them would not be able to continue their good work without volunteer support.
Think about which charity most appeals to you, whether that’s helping homeless people, fighting for animal rights, or making the world greener. Do a little research on what’s available in your area and reach out your hand to help.
When you band together with people in an effort to help others, you will find your time passes more quickly, your step becomes lighter, and you go to bed more fulfilled, knowing you made a difference.
7) Consider moving to a retirement village
The social benefits of living in a retirement community are undeniable. Even the smallest villages have regular activities where you can meet people, learn a new skill, or just have some fun. Larger villages are more like resorts with so many things to do you’ll have to buy a diary just to keep track!
You won’t have to do every activity available – you can pick and choose whatever takes your fancy. The added benefit of a larger retirement community is that you’re more likely to meet people you click with; people from similar backgrounds or with interests and values that align with yours.
Discover a retirement community that really cares at Renaissance
Being part of a retirement community means you never have to be alone – unless to want to be! You’ll always be able to find someone wanting to go shopping, or for a walk, or to the movies or to sit and chat with over a cuppa.
At Renaissance Victoria Point we provide endless opportunities for you to meet people. Some of our residents are quick to make friends, others are happy for a few introductions. You’ll soon find your ‘tribe!’
We’d love you to visit our wonderful community and meet some of our residents. Call Renaissance today on (07) 3820 7700 or get in touch online to find out more about our outstanding Victoria Point retirement living.