Social isolation in elderly is becoming increasingly common in today’s society. Making friends in retirement can be particularly difficult. Having children or a job often provides automatic relationships that can blossom into friendships, but during retirement there are fewer organic prospects for friendship, and effort must be put forth in order to create the opportunities.
Retirees who move into communities that cater specifically to retired people are at an advantage when it comes to forming friendships in the latter stage of life. Not only are they living near others with similar lifestyles, many may be seeking to fill their social calendars and many of these communities host a variety of activities for their residents. For instance, Vicar’s Landing, the retirement resort at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, offers options such as day trips to art museums, volunteer groups and organizations, as well as a variety of classes and activities. These types of excursions and amenities provide ample social time. Members will get to know the other members of their group, and the regular scheduled meetings take all the guesswork out of forming relationships, bringing back those natural connections that often get lost once we stop working.
Another option for making friends in retirement is to join groups of people with shared interests, such as art and music clubs, or sports teams. Scheduling regular exercise with a partner is an excellent way to build a relationship while motivating each other to stay in shape and keep active – this clearly has multiple health benefits. Certain activities were made to be done with others, like dancing! Taking a dance class is fun, social, and a good way to keep moving. Janice Richardson, Director of Activities at Vicar’s Landing spends her time connecting with Members on a day-to-day basis and keeping the social calendar full.“We recently added a larger exercise area with state-of-the-art equipment and all-inclusive arts and crafts classroom and technology offerings,” Janice says. “Many of the Members help run Vicar’s themselves. One Member has been teaching two line dancing classes and she’s fabulous.”
Despite the sometimes challenging nature of making friends in retirement, it is imperative to ensure that social interactions remain a priority. Just like good diet and exercise, it is equally important for health and well-being to get a good dose of socialization on a regular basis. The stress-lowering effects of having close, healthy relationships far make up for the effort expended. Among other things, connecting with friends boosts brain health and decreases the risks of dementia. The benefits can lead to a longer life and better quality of life through improved health.
Perhaps one of the best ways to ensure regular social interaction is to live in a retirement community like Vicar’s Landing where the activities are plentiful and there is always a full and active calendar of events at which to get to know other members of the community. For Scott Hetzinger, Director of Security and Transportation at Vicar’s Landing, scheduling comfortable rides to and from the airport, shopping trips and other activities is all in a day’s work. “I like to say that no two days are the same, and we like it that way. The Members always have something new to look forward to.”
Regardless of how it may be done, staying connected with others provides immeasurable benefits to both physical and mental health. It is worth the effort to ensure that social needs are met and friendships are formed throughout the retirement stage of life.