Retiring is something to look forward to — and not just because you’ll no longer have to commute or wear a suit. Retirement can be a time for discovering new things in life. Try new hobbies, see a different part of the world, and meet a whole new set of friends who share your interests. Here’s why all the discoveries that await in your new retirement lifestyle aren’t just exciting to look forward to — they’re necessary as well.
It’s Time to Tackle That Long List of “Someday” Goals
Anyone who’s ever retired has a long list of things they can’t wait to do. What’s on your list? Are you envisioning endless days by the pool and evenings filled with cocktails and dinner reservations? Is it the travel bug that’s got you chomping at the bit to get out and do things? Are you looking forward to finally having time to learn Spanish? Whatever your plans are for your post-career years, it’s time to dig in and start doing!
There’s a bittersweet irony that comes with retirement, however. Now that you have all this time to pursue your hobbies and other goals, it might be difficult to find people to do them with. That’s because, after retirement, it can be challenging to maintain a social network.
Social Networks Can Feel Thin During Retirement
Once you stop working, you lose the instant social network of co-workers and their families. Even though you may not have made it a regular practice to hang out with colleagues outside of work hours, you still spend a major chunk of each day surrounded by them when you were working.
That inadvertently fulfilled much of your requirements for social interaction for the week. Even if you’re a social butterfly, the interaction you got at work satisfied that side of you to a minimum degree, at least. But once you retire, that vanishes and the days can seem long and lonely, in comparison. For retirees who’ve already discovered this, making new friends becomes an important goal.
Social Isolation is Bad for Retirees
There’s another reason that every retiree should put socializing at the top of their list of priorities. Numerous studies have found that isolation and the resulting loneliness can be bad for your health! According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, living alone or having a small social network can lead to a variety of negative health consequences, including cognitive decline, depression, and increased risk of infection.
This is true of every age group, but retirees are especially susceptible. The loss of social networks due to leaving a job is only the beginning. As people age, their friends tend to move away, become too sick to socialize, or in later years, maybe even pass away. Retirement can also means downsizing and moving to another region for lots of people. Then there are the health conditions and mobility issues that people begin to suffer as they age. All of these things work together to put a big dent in social circles for retired people.
As a result, seniors are more prone to social isolation. The Stanford Center on Longevity studies these things and recently came out with the results of a study. Older generations are the most likely of all age groups to be disengaged from any social networks. Given the isolating nature the structure of today’s societal structure, that’s hardly surprising news for most folks. Read about the importance of socialization for older adults.
Four Easy Ways to Make New Friends
So now you know the bad news. There’s a more important lesson here, however, and that’s what you can do to combat isolation. The good news is, there are plenty of options when it comes to making new friends and having new experiences. Here are four easy ideas.
Join a Club
Probably one of the top ways to make long-lasting friends is to join a club. That’s where you’ll meet lots of people who share a common interest. Clubs exist for that very reason and they also provide a platform for showing your expertise. Sharing what you’re good at is a wonderful way to build rapport with club members.
You don’t have to be an expert at something in order to make new friends, however. Joining a club to learn something new is a good way to meet people, too. It also keeps the brain active and healthy, which is a good way to help ward off mental decline and even dementia, according to studies.
Joining a club or picking up a hobby may sound like a small change, but it could really make all the difference. Read about the importance of having hobbies in retirement.
Donating your time and your experience is a way to make friends and make a difference in the world while you’re at it. Whether you volunteer to help kids in need or you support the ongoing campaign to end hunger by ladling soup or stocking food pantries, we can’t think of a better way to spend some of your time during retirement. There are endless varieties of volunteer opportunities, so everyone is bound to find something that suits their interests.
Join a Community Center
Social opportunities abound at community centers that serve as hubs for people to socialize, volunteer, take classes, and participate in physical fitness programs. If you happen to retire to an active adult community, you’re ready to go because a community center is an integral part of most residential communities for seniors. But if you live in an independent home, check with your local council on the aging, your church, or the town hall for ideas.
Joining a community center can be a life changing experience for some adults, particularly one based in faith. Whether you grew up in a faith–based household or you are looking for a spiritual outlet, a community based in faith may be just want you need. Read how Acts Retirement supports the spiritual needs of its’ residents.
There’s a growing trend with retirees who want to stay in the loop with their old careers and who also want to give back. It’s called “mentoring,” and it consists of sharing your knowledge with younger people in your field. Mentoring lends the added benefit of offering retirees a meaningful way to interact with younger generations – a situation they often find increasingly elusive as they get older.
Mentoring doesn’t just mean helping someone on their career path, it can be as simple as taking a more active role in the lives of your grandchildren. Read this list of inter-generational bonding activities for grandparents and grandchildren.
Finding New Friends and New Experiences
These are only four ways you can make new friends and discover new interests. Frankly, the world is full of opportunities for both, if you look around. All it takes is knowing your priorities, keeping an open mind, and embracing the exciting potential that awaits you!
Want to learn more about retirement? Read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities:
5 Retirement Community Myths Dispelled
Dealing with Post-Retirement Depression