Avoiding loneliness as you get older – ways to stay socially connected

Loneliness is a problem experienced by more people in our community than we realise. In Australia, one in four Australians (men and women) feel lonely, and loneliness leads to a decline in mental and physical health. So if you are feeling lonely and struggling to find ways to interact with people and make new friends, you are actually not alone.

Humans are wired to connect with other humans. A sense of acceptance and belonging is vital for our wellbeing. Whether you are male or female, and especially as you age, good habits for staying socially connected become more important. If you have learned these younger, all the better. But if you are a late bloomer, do not worry, it is never too late to start new habits, find new interests and make new friends.

And remember, if you are feeling lonely and wanting to create more social opportunities with others, then it is highly likely there are many others who feel the same way too.

How to avoid loneliness and stay socially connected

Find groups of like-minded people

But how, you might ask? There are community groups that you can seek out with similar interests to you. Your local council will have walking groups, information on art and craft groups and other events. Your local community centres will be running all sorts of classes for you to explore. Don’t forget WEA as well, they run many courses for all sorts of interests.

Men’s Sheds are an initiative to bring men in local communities together with a common intent to work on meaningful projects that are of interest to the general community. More information can be found here https://mensshed.org/

Meet up is used by many people between 18 and 80 years old. It is an excellent way to find new groups of people with similar interests around sport, books, movies, food – the list goes on and it is free to join.

And, if you’ve made a genuine effort to make friends but the group is not your style, don’t stop looking! You might need to go to 4 or 5 groups before you find the right one where you feel a sense of belonging and have like-minded interests.

Always show up for your appointments

There are people who are always late and even worse, some who make a lame last minute excuse for not showing up. This is a sure way to eventually not be invited to more events which, unless you have a very valid reason to not show up, will create more loneliness down the track.

Don’t be one of those people, stick to your word and always show up when you said you would. Even if the recipient is not as gracious, you are practicing good interpersonal skills and evolving into a better friend yourself.

Get better at small talk

Sometimes we whine about small talk and what a waste of time it is. However, the flipside is that small talk can also be a way to pave the way for some deep and meaningful talk, and most of us are not going to open up completely to people we do not know yet.

Get better at small talk as a way to develop a connection, no matter how small, the rest will follow. And practice this at the local bakery, café, supermarket and with the neighbours. A few simple words with people here and there will go a long way to avoiding a sense of isolation.

Diversify friendship groups

Diversify your friendship groups for social stimulation interest and learning. You may enjoy a cup of tea with the ladies at your local craft club, but enjoy the verbal banter at your weekly book club. You might like walks down the beach with your yoga friend and enjoy the theatre with another.

Help others – it is good for you

Find ways to give others a helping hand. If you are prone to too much self-reflection and inwardly thinking, you may be too focussed on your own loneliness problems and this can lead you to make them bigger than they really are. Keep a balanced perspective on your life and spend time thinking about another’s need. It is an excellent antidote to feeling lonely.

Become a better listener

Often the most interesting people we meet are those that spend more time listening to us than talking about themselves. You have two ears and one mouth so keep this in the right balance when interacting with another.

It also makes the other person feel respected and valued when you are paying attention to them.

Use social media for your benefit

Use social media for your benefit and greater good rather than to see how lonely other people are not.

Social media groups on Facebook and Meet Up and ideal to meet new people with common interests, use it for the purpose of meeting those who are also seeking people like you.

Pick up the phone and have a chat

If you have not been in touch with a friend for some time, pick up the phone for a chat and arrange to catch up. Don’t think about who instigated the last phone call, whose turn it is to call, just reach out and call them. Eventually all good relationships need a balance of both parties making the effort but with newer relationships or people who are not so close, it may need to be you to start some momentum.

And remember that if you are feeling lonely, there is nothing wrong with you. You are human being wanting social interaction and connection because this is how we are all wired. Honour this and allow yourself to be a little bit hesitant, a little bit awkward and a little bit of a novice while you go about making new friends. We’re all in the same boat.

St Louis Home Care services will help you to stay socially connected

St Louis’ home care services in Adelaide and Victor Harbor help our residents stay socially active and contributing to their community. We know how important it is for people to stay active as they age and we support our clients to continue their hobbies, interests and contact with family and friends. Call St Louis today on 8332 0950 for more information.

Other blogs of interest:

7 Activities to Enjoy with Your Elderly Relatives this Christmas

Q&A with Kim Redin, RN Home Care Coordinator. Making Sure Your Home Care Package Meets Your Needs

21 Ways to Use Your Home Care Package to Stay Socially Connected - Q&A Home Care Coordinators Maria and Leonie

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