Maintaining Strong Relationships May Support Healthy Aging!

Author: Julie


What can you do to support your own healthy aging after retirement? Did you know that there are health benefits of friendship? While continuing to age and enduring the new dynamics of life after retirement, contrary to the belief that retirement is just one big vacation, life may pose some new challenges. It can be easy to fall into habits that lead to being sedentary or isolated, such as staying in the house and watching your favorite TV series. Maybe you’ve finally taken the leap to move into that new home by the water, but it is further away from your children & grandchildren. Often times, life after retirement makes staying connected more difficult. But studies show that you may want to go that extra mile to maintain your stronger relationships- for your health! According to Harvard Health, studies conducted by Brigham Young University propose that feeling lonely, experiencing social isolation, and living alone are considered risk factors for premature death (Harvard Health Publishing 2017). For individuals over the age of 60, roughly 17% report feeling lonely often or most of the time (Harvard Health Publishing 2017).

Methods to Stay Connected:

Naturally, life after retirement may lead to difficulty staying connected; especially if your spouse has passed away. Practicing some of these methods to staying socially connected & involved may keep you from getting lonely and support your health!  
  1. Schedule Family Meetings or Reunions to Enjoy the Health Benefits of Friendship

Staying in touch with family members can be difficult sometimes! With work schedule conflicts, children or grandchildren involved in activities, or distance, finding the time to get together can be hectic. Some families wait for the holidays to get together, but family meetings don’t have to be so infrequent. Make a point to schedule weekly or monthly visits with the whole family. There is nothing like the support of family (Stevenson 2017).  
  1. Stay in Touch With Technology

Keeping a cell phone can be extremely helpful for staying in touch. Especially if your retirement location  is far from family. You can use a cell phone for video calls, text messaging, or even emailing. Let’s face it- in a fast paced, work oriented world, everyone stays connected through their phones. You don’t have to be a master of technology to use them either! Staying in touch via calls or video calls is only the press of a button (Stevenson 2017).  
  1. Join A Club or Group Activity to Enjoy the Health Benefits of Friendship

Your local senior center may have ways to inform you of local clubs that can introduce you to new friends. There should be a variety of clubs to choose from- garden clubs, book clubs, art clubs, & more. Since everyone is the group will have a common interest, it could be a great way to spark some conversation (McCoy 2013)! Since there are so many health benefits of friendship, it makes sense to go to places or activities where you could make new ones!  
  1. Consider Taking Up a Part Time Job

You may want to consider looking into taking up a part time job in a field that you are interested in! As ironic as it may seem to take up a job after retirement, it will put some extra money in your pocket, keep you mentally stimulated, and serve as a way to stay connected. Often times, there isn’t much obligation to get out and socialize after retirement. While you a part- time job can get you involved again, you may even find it gives you a stronger sense of purpose (McCoy 2013).  
  1. Try Looking For a Roommate to Experience the Health Benefits of Friendship

According to the American Psychology Association, approximately 32% of women over the age of 65 lived alone in 2016. You may prefer living alone, but you also may want to consider rooming with a friend! Getting a roommate may help you feel connected again, and can even make expenses after retirement more affordable. This route is not most typical for life after retirement, but it could keep you from getting lonely and feeling out of the loop (Harvard Health Publishing 2017)! Obviously, there are health benefits of friendship.         Sources: Harvard Health Publishing. “Staying Connected Can Improve Your Health.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/staying-connected-can-improve-your-health.   McCoy, Krisha. “How to Stay Socially Engaged as You Age.” Everyday Health, Everyday Health, 16 Apr. 2013, www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/enhancing-your-life.aspx.   Stevenson, Sarah. “10 Ways Families Can Stay Connected When Caring for an Aging Parent.” 10 Ways Families Stay Connected When Caring for an Aging Parent, 22 Aug. 2017, www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-04-09-caring-for-an-aging-parent/.  

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