If you’re middle-aged or older, or you have a parent who’s considered a senior, you may have noticed there’s been a lot in the news about the negative impact loneliness and isolation has on older adults.
Recently, more research has focused on how social factors affect health. For instance, multiple studies have shown that older adults who are isolated or feel lonely are at greater risk of developing a variety of health issues. They are also more likely to experience declines in cognition and physical functioning.
Fortunately, researchers also found that having positive interactions with other people on a regular basis can lower those risks. While loving relationships with family members are important, of course, other research indicates that friendships may be even more vital to the well-being of older adults.
Yet building and holding on to friendships can become more challenging as we get older. Here’s the good news: The right environment and a positive mindset can offset many of those challenges.
Widening Social Circles at a Time When They Tend To Grow Smaller
In our younger decades, when we’re likely to be raising a family and working outside of the home, there typically is no shortage of opportunities to strike up new friendships. The biggest obstacle may be finding the time to nurture those relationships.
In retirement, when the kids are grown and gone from home, and we’re not devoting a third or more of our time to a job or career, there usually is more time available to nurture our relationships. Ironically, our social circle may be considerably smaller after we retire — but it doesn’t have to be.
The First Step To Making New Friends? Get Out More!
When you don’t have to be at a particular place every day for a set amount of time, it’s easy to fall into the habit of sleeping in and puttering around the house. Digital entertainment services like YouTube and Netflix can tempt you to spend countless hours sitting in front of a computer or TV screen.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a day like that on occasion. But you already know that a steady diet of days like that isn’t healthy.
You can break the habit by making a pact with yourself to find a new interest that will bring you into more contact with other people (and potential new friends). Here are a few suggestions:
- Get moving. Start taking fitness classes or regularly engaging in some other form of physical activity. Even getting out for a walk every day will increase your interactions with people in your neighborhood. (Just be sure to be safe!)
- Do some good. Find a nearby charitable organization, school or animal shelter that’s looking for help and sign up as a volunteer. Many national organizations have local chapters that carry out their work. You could also start your own volunteer effort.
- Enrich your mind. Community colleges often offer classes on a variety of topics that are open to the public. Older adults may be eligible for a discount on tuition or fees. Senior centers are another possibility for such classes.
- Learn new ways to express yourself. If you’ve always wanted to explore your creative side, take up painting, woodworking or photography. Or learn to speak a new language — maybe even sign language.
- Join or start a book club. If you love to read, you’re already in good company. Why not make it literal good company (pun intended)?
Senior Living Makes It Even Easier
Living in a retirement community brings all of these opportunities, and more, right to your front door. From exercise classes developed specifically for older adults to a remarkably diverse selection of interest groups, senior living communities specialize in offering options to connect.
Just going about your daily routine will present chances to meet new people. You’ll encounter neighbors and other residents while having lunch or dinner in one of the dining venues or even when you pick up your mail.
You’ll also find that residents in retirement communities tend to be friendly and will invite you to socialize if you’re open to that. You may also be pleasantly surprised to discover how fascinating it can be to learn about the people who live in your new community.
At Christwood, You Don’t Even Have To Live Here
While we would certainly love to welcome you as a resident, you can still take advantage of many of the social activities and fitness classes residents enjoy without moving from your current home, provided you live in the general Covington area.
The Christwood Community Center, which serves as the social hub of our community, is open to adults age 55 or older with a membership. In addition to a regular schedule of fun and engaging wellness classes, we host educational lectures, seasonal and holiday celebrations, dances, group outings and other community events, like our recent Summer Splash.
Wellness classes at The Community Center are developed with older adults in mind and are led by specially trained instructors. If you’re just getting back into an exercise class or starting anew, it’s easier to begin (and continue) when you’re with people who are your peers. Joining the neighborhood gym could be intimidating, but here at the Christwood Community Center, there’s a sense of camaraderie — and a lot of laughter.
Looking for more ways to socialize? The Community Center is also home to the following:
- Forever Fit Kitchen is open for lunch to the general public, with members receiving a special discount.
- Lotus Spa, where those who are at least 18 can relax and rejuvenate.
If you’re curious and would like to take a tour of The Community Center (and the rest of Christwood, if you’re interested), we encourage you to connect with us and set up a time. Let us know, and we’ll arrange for you to participate in a class while you’re here, as our guest.
You could also come have lunch or make an appointment for a spa treatment and get more information about all The Community Center offers while you’re here.
If you’re looking into options for independent living in Covington or assisted living or memory care, we hope you’ll take a closer look at Christwood. Whether your goal is a more active lifestyle or one that provides an advanced level of care, friendships and the many benefits they bring are part of the package.