Counteracting Loneliness

Psychiatrist working with seniors observed that those who stay busy with social interaction are the happiest and healthiest, and seniors said they feel their best when engaged in a worthwhile activity like volunteering.

Consider these avenues for combating loneliness:

  • Volunteer - there are many organizations begging for help. These can be found by contacting your Chamber of Commerce, libraries or local Senior Services.
  • Become involved in community and civic groups - check your newspaper for events that may catch your interest. Attend a few meetings before deciding whether or not to give them your time.
  • Join an Exercise Program for Seniors - A number of churches, senior centers and parks and recreation departments offer programs. Your local YMCA or YWCA may even offer trainers to ensure you get off to a good start.
  • Get back to a hobby you once enjoyed - play bridge, join a garden club, go back to church, or learn to line dance. You are sure to feel better for having interacted with others.
  • Renew acquaintances or make new ones. It's not always easy to call a friend you've neglected for years, but take the stance of "better late than never" and pick up the phone and invite someone for coffee or a movie.
  • Get out of the house and walk your neighborhood, greeting anyone else who's outside. After a few weeks, you may even find yourself involved in conversations with neighbors.

There are on-line communities for those unable to get out. Be careful of how much information you share, but explore chat rooms on subjects you may enjoy. If you are uncertain about using the Internet, your local library offers classes (some specific to seniors).

Some churches have telephone contact programs where you can be contacted by phone on a regular basis. If the telephone is your main social resource, you might become one of the callers who reach out to others.

Take the first step. You'll find a welcome reception if you are willing to reach out.

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