It can also be an isolating experience, especially for people who have friends or family who have moved away, passed away or who have interests of their own.
Loneliness and social isolation are often a result of a lack of mobility and, as our bodies age, we experience a a greater risk of illness, physical injury or disability.
Having a sense of purpose and social connection are two of the most important factors for health and wellbeing in retirement. So if you want to combat loneliness in old age, live longer and prevent illnesses, such as dementia1, here are our 6 tips:
1. Build new relationships and stay engaged
Venture out and find opportunities where you can participate in hobbies or social activities.
If you fancy yourself a handyman, check out the Australian Men’s Shed Association or try something more creative like learning the discipline of Bonsai making.
And if you just want to go out there and have fun – check out websites like About over 50: For fun, social or business or clubs, classes and activities in your local area.
2. Find a purpose through volunteering
Giving back to society through volunteering can be a richly rewarding experience that will keep you busy while helping people who really need it.
Think about what you’re passionate about and what causes you’d like to support. You could mentor youth or those in business or help out at the local library.
Organisations like Volunteering Australia always welcome an extra pair of hands. You could end up building some really great relationships with the people you’re helping.
3. Broaden your horizons
Research has found that travel can improve your overall health and well-being, by influencing your mood and stress levels, and by providing friendships and mental stimulation2 which can help avoid retirement loneliness.
See more of Australia: check out the 50+ Travel Club for opportunities to travel with others.
If you have a Seniors Card take advantage of your travel concessions. There are many travel agencies and websites dedicated to providing the best deals and experiences for seniors, such as Seniors HolidayTravel.
4. Go back to work, but do something you enjoy
There are lots of organisations that value mature workers; after all you have a lifetime of skills up your sleeves. Read more on job search tips and check out some senior-specific recruitment sites like Older workers.
5. Challenge your mind
Keep yourself mentally active and engaged by furthering your education.
Check out what your local universities or TAFE institutes have to offer or see what’s online; the University of the Third Age is a virtual university dedicated to older students.
6. Get a roommate
Research tells us living alone can often bring on social isolation, which can contribute to poor health and depression3 in the elderly.
Not only will a roommate keep you company, you’ll also benefit in other ways. They can help share the burden of household expenses and chores and be there in the case of emergencies.
Research has also found that companion animals are associated with improved wellbeing, including physical, social and psychological health4.
Need more help?
If you feel like you need some more advice or even just someone to talk to about loneliness in old age, consider organisations like BeyondBlue.
Find out more
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1 Hill, P.L and Turiano, N.A. (2014), Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood
2 Gobal Coalition on Aging http://www.globalcoalitiononaging.com/index.php?id=travel-and-healthy-aging-the-journey-and-the-destination
3 Australian Institute of Family Studies https://aifs.gov.au/publications/family-matters/issue-83/golden-years
4 The pet effect http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2012/june/the-pet-effect/
Gender inequality in preparation for retirement is larger in Australia than Britain and the United States.