Ending Loneliness in Retirement
Many people are hit with a sense of loneliness they hadn’t expected when they retire. For many, being alone overshadows many of the positive aspects of not working anymore.
Many people fail to realize the importance of connections in their working life. Before retiring, people often work for the same organization for twenty or thirty years. Even if they don’t socialize outside of the office, many feel a sense of kinship to their associates. A type of family bound often occurs when people work together for a long time.
Baby boomers are often facing retirement without a spouse. More than other generations before them, many baby boomers have never married. A high divorce has also contributed to many baby boomers retiring without a partner. Because it’s unusual for a couple to retire at the same time, one person may face retirement alone, while their spouse continues to work. Finally, illness or lack of compatibility may leave a person in a partnership that is unfulfilling.
Because baby boomers had more options than former generations, they may not have children. With a mobile society, children often live far away. Families can be busy with school and extracurricular activities. The retired person can often fold into the family activities, but rarely visa versa.
While many people enter retirement and are shocked or disappointed by a sense of loneliness, there are many things you can do to connect with others. Unfortunately, most will require initial effort on your part. For people who love to tag along and don’t like to take initiative, this can be a challenge. Set small goals and experiment with activities that will get you involved with others.
First, form multi-generational relationships. If you only have friends with people who are your own age, it can be very disheartening as you get older and they die. Forming relationships with people of different ages will keep you youthful and engaged. If you don’t have young people in your life, consider volunteering as a big brother or sister. There may be opportunities to volunteer or work in schools. Preschools or libraries might enjoy a person coming in to read a book for story time. Consider getting involved in a youth program at church. Look at neighborhood youngsters who might enjoy your companionship.
When asked about their retirement desires, the desire for ongoing learning is often voiced by baby boomers. For some that can be a more academic setting such as a junior college or adult school. For others, it’s the opportunity to explore new hobbies or increase expertise in a passion. Also, joining a local chapter for a hobby that’s of interests can be a way of getting to know others. If you don’t have a hobby, experiment with different activities that you think you might want to engage. Everyone can find something that is interesting. The trick is to be willing to explore and experiment with different activities until you find a good match.
As previously mentioned, volunteering is a way to connect with other generations. Volunteering is also a way to meet others who share an interest or passion. New retirees are often frustrated when they want to volunteer their time and find they are not welcomed with open arms. Research different options, but be willing to try multiple activities if the first one doesn’t work out.
Finally, consider changing your home. Many people are committed to staying in their single family home. It’s comfortable and often holds memories. The thought of packing up a home is often more than a person wants to contemplate. Moving into an environment where there is a built in community may be a solution worth exploring. If you have a difficult time reaching out to others, adult communities have built in activities. It’s a great place to form relationships and can be a springboard to a fulfilling retirement.
Loneliness in retirement can be difficult. If not addressed early on it can turn to depression. If you struggle with loneliness, know you are not the only one who feels isolated. There are many people in the world who want to connect with you. You have to be willing to take some initial steps.
As a wise minister once said to me, “You can’t find Mr. Right with your door locked and the shades pulled down.” Get out there, experiment with different activities. You will find others.
Cathy Severson, MS helps you make the most of your retirement. Baby boomers understand this isn’t your parents retirement. Find out how to make the rest of your life the best of your life with the complimentary e-book 7 Ingredients for a Satisfying Retirement at http://tinyurl.com/8moymb