Social isolation is not desirable for anyone. Its implications for health and well-being are recognized around the world and should not be taken lightly at any age. The context of the current health crisis has forced us to isolate ourselves further, but has taught us to be more creative in our methods of socializing and keeping in touch.
Maintaining a fulfilling social life when you are retired
Take initiatives to increase your opportunities to socialize. Be the one to invite, to check in, to organize an outing, to offer help and to open the door to social contacts.
Make two lists that you will keep in a notebook.
On the first, write the names of the people in your social circle who you would like to see or talk to more often. Once your list is done, share your wish with the people concerned. Take concrete steps to make your wish come true.
The second list will feature people you would like to get to know, whether it is the neighbour you sometimes bump into in the dining room or that friendly stranger you have seen a few times in the local café.
Try phone pairing
Did you know that programs put into place by different organizations have enabled seniors to receive heartwarming phone calls during the pandemic? The “Au bout de fil” program, initiated by the organization Les petits frères, is a free service available throughout Quebec which consists of creating telephone pairings between people aged 75 and over and experienced volunteers. You will receive calls from your assigned volunteer once or twice a week. You can, in this way, develop a close bond through the conversations. Does anyone in your social circle seem bored? Sign them up! Do you want to chat with someone? Call 1-877-805-1955.
Make phone appointments with your loved ones
Life goes fast and often weeks pass without us having had time to talk to this or that person who is dear to us. Make an appointment with a friend or family member to talk to you regularly, as often as suits you. Agree on a day and a time together and stick to your commitment.
Support local businesses
What is the link between buying locally and socializing? By becoming a loyal customer of the local fruit store or the little neighbourhood café, the merchants will get to know you and a wonderful relationship often ends up developing between merchants and their loyal clientele. You will also often meet the same people there with whom you might strike up a conversation.
Greet new people
It is by increasing interactions with others that you can improve the quality of your social life. A bright hello or a simple smile can go a long way. Start a conversation with people who return the favour. Even a brief exchange with a stranger can sometimes do a lot of good and you may be surprised by the new encounters that you will make.
Offer your help
It is a marvelous way to break the ice and to offer a hand to others. Whether it’s a neighbour who needs help to do his grocery shopping or a loved one who would like some help in assembling a piece of furniture, any reason is a good one to lend a hand. People rarely dare ask for help but you will be surprised to see that your offer won’t be turned down.
Join a hobby club
Whether it is a walking club, a pétanque club or even a reading group with whom you share your views online, hobby clubs are a great way to meet people with common interests and will allow you to develop a strong sense of belonging, a powerful antidote to loneliness.
Adopt a pet
It has been proven time and time again that the presence of a pet is a great source of comfort and can help battle loneliness. Pet owners feel less alone in the presence of their pet. If you don’t want to assume this big responsibility, offer to walk a neighbour’s dog and enjoy this pet-therapy session.
Turn off the TV
This month, challenge yourself to spend less time in front of the television and more time outside your apartment. Frequent the common areas of your complex and go outside for a walk when the temperatures are mild. Living in a retirement residence offers you plenty of opportunities to socialize and not be alone. Take the opportunity to participate in the activities on offer and avail yourself of the available facilities.
What is the key to a fulfilling social life? There are no quick fixes, but habits to integrate into our lives, things that sometimes seem mundane, like a simple, friendly neighbourhood exchange, but which can make all the difference to a day.