Ancient philosophers knew that human beings are social by nature millennia ago, so why is it so common that we allow ourselves to become more solitary and let loneliness creep in as we age?
“Man is by nature a social animal” – Aristotle
Interacting with a diverse community of people brings interest, stimulation and excitement, but with terms like “past their prime” and “over the hill” bouncing around in common vernacular, it’s not surprising that we might begin to drop our personal needs down the priority list in later life. I’m here to call “stop!” if you are experiencing loneliness. There is absolutely no reason why getting older should mean getting less out of life. You have so much to offer and so much to enjoy. Don’t fall into a rut of the wrong elderly cliché. Have some fun with it and shoot for “wise owl”, “silver fox” or “fine vintage” instead!
Silliness aside, an active social life will reduce your risk of dementia, benefit happiness and physical well-being and can add years to your life. You are a deserving and valuable individual. Try out these top tips to enrich your social experience and re-energise your spirit:
Learn Something New
Learning new skills is a fantastic way to stimulate the mind and connect with like-minded people. Is there anything you always wanted to try but kept putting off? Give yourself permission to do something for just for you! Consider an art class, tap lessons, or even take a philosophy course! If you want to do something physical, don’t be afraid that you are less able than your younger classmates. By being bold enough to try, as in doing so, you will inspire others more than you can imagine!
Engage Your Community
We are surrounded by a range of interesting people all of the time but we too often step past this brilliant opportunity. Look for local groups to get involved with. Is there a church or community centre with meetings and activities you could be part of? Is there a local book club or do people meet to play bridge nearby? Pay attention to street billboards and events your local authorities have scheduled. There may be a hive of activity just waiting to be discovered.
Volunteering is a wonderful chance to connect with others in a meaningful way. You may be able to help local charities manage their donations. Your favourite museum may be looking for ushers or the library may rely on volunteers to keep its content in order. Food donations schemes are always looking for helpers able to collect, sort and distribute food to those who need it. Look for something that interests you or that you feel will be most rewarding. You might meet all sorts of people you wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with and the people you help will be boosted by your passion.
Get A Pet
Having a pet will not only give you great company at home but also get you moving and create new interactions when you’re out and about. Walking your dog in the park can lead to all sorts of conversations about breeds and tricks. Why not join a training group too? Cats might offer less social opportunities but require less physical effort from you and can serve as a great conversation starter. You will discover that cat enthusiasts are always thrilled to talk about their beloved moggies. There is a reason why videos of cats are one of the most popular things on the internet! A rescue animal can be a perfect choice when you’re a bit less able as you can work with rescue staff to find a calm, older animal with a perfect temperament to suit you.
Explore Your Area
What extraordinary treasures are on your doorstep? We are often so caught up in our daily lives; we fail to make the most of our local areas. Look for open gardens and parks, historic buildings and monuments, community theatre and pop up art galleries. The people you find exploring this cache of experiences will be curious-minded too. Don’t be afraid to chat about what you’ve discovered!
Connect With Technology
The internet gets a bad rap for some of its negative impacts on social interaction but when used thoughtfully it can be a wonderful way to connect with people from all over the world, sharing our experiences and creativity. Why not investigate starting an online journal of your life experiences, or documenting home art projects? If you need help finding your way around the technology sign up for an evening class to get you up to speed.
Be Bold: Reinvent Yourself!
Rather than being a time to think smaller, getting older can be the moment to think big. Your body might not be as agile as it once was but the sky is the limit in terms of what new interests you can pursue and how you can be creative with your time. Today you can reinvent yourself, to whatever extent as you choose. It might only be small changes in your daily habits, or you might give yourself a total makeover, but you are free to live life in a more open and playful way. Don’t sell yourself short. Reach out and ignite some social sparks!