On the old television show “The Golden Girls,” four, over-60 widows live together, providing each other companionship, friendship and emotional support. Many seniors, however, lack this kind of social network. In fact, loneliness is a serious problem among elderly people. Fortunately, loneliness can be overcome, although doing so takes some initiative. You might find the following strategies and tips helpful.
Make the effort to meet new people. At first, you may simply enjoy the companionship of a casual acquaintance. But over time, some of these relationships will grow into close friendships, the kind you can turn to for emotional support.
Your local senior center and area agency on aging are great resources, often organizing classes, outings and social functions for people who want to enjoy life with other seniors. Churches, health clubs, civic and service organizations, educational classes, travel clubs, and special interest groups are good places to meet people of all ages.
When you see an opportunity to introduce yourself, do so! Ask others about themselves and let people know something about you. Most people are happy to include newcomers, but growing new friendships requires ongoing contact.
Meanwhile, don’t forget old friends and neighbors. Invite a friend with whom you’ve lost touch for lunch or organize a neighborhood get-together. Someone always has to take the initiative-it might as well be you.
Volunteering your time and talents can help to put your own situation in perspective, bringing to light the positives and the things you can be thankful for. Check your local phone book under “volunteering” for organizations such as RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program). You also can check with your local senior center, area agency on aging and hospital for volunteer opportunities.