Why You Need to Stay Social as You Age
Entering into retirement is one of the biggest changes you’ll go through in your life. As much as it’s possible to prepare for it, once you’re in that phase of having to plan (or not plan) your routine every single day, it can get challenging.
Maybe the larger challenge is finding ways to stay social as you become distanced from your peer groups. You don’t realize how crucial work was to your social life until it’s not there anymore. And as you transition into retirement, it will take effort to stay socially connected to any group. You’ll need to be far more deliberate about how you plan your activities, and whether you have a partner or not, staying social through retirement becomes an important part of maintaining your health.
Why it’s important to stay social as you age
You may think of being social in retirement as something that’s nice but not necessary. How much can being around people and participating in social activities really improve your life? It’s a fair question, but minimizing the impact of staying social would be a mistake that can actually have negative effects on your health.
A report by the University of Manitoba showed some incredible results when studying the impact of seniors staying social. Some of the more surprising conclusions include the following:
The risk of developing a disability in activities of daily living decreased by 43 per cent over an average of five years for each additional social activity engaged in; the risk of mobility disability decreased by 31 per cent (James et al., 2011)
The rate of cognitive decline was reduced by an average of 70 per cent in older adults who were frequently socially active compared to those who were infrequently socially active over an average of five years. (James, Wilson, Barnes, & Bennet, 2011)
Older adults who participated on a daily or weekly basis in social activity had a 40 per cent reduced risk of developing dementia compared to those who were not socially engaged (Wang, Karp, Winblad, & Fratiglioni, 2002)
As you can see, staying social as you age is far more beneficial than you may think. It plays a significant role in your physical and mental health, so you really should be finding ways to connect to groups that interest you. But finding these groups can also be challenging, so let’s discuss some of the social activities that can make a difference in your daily life.
Social activities that help you meet new people
Now that you know the value of staying social, let’s talk about what you can do to better connect with different groups.
The keyword here is new. Finding a new hobby forces you out of your comfort zone. The hobby can still be something you’re interested in or always wanted to do, but try to make it an activity you’re not currently doing or good at. Taking this approach gives you the stimulation your brain needs to keep you engaged and push you to interact with a new group of people.
Teaching is a great way to meet new people. It’s also beneficial because it keeps your mind active and in a constant state of learning. Teaching means you’ll be connecting with groups on a regular basis who you can engage in conversation about topics that excite you. And as a side note, it might be a good way to earn some extra income. At Boomerang, we pay our hosts to teach workshops that they’re experts in.
Find an online community
Sometimes you just want to talk or dive deep into a topic that really captures your attention. Online communities are perfect for this. Neighbourhoods today tend to start online communities, so that would be a good place to start. Book clubs are another great option or even something broader like retirement groups. Boomerang has an active senior community with a wide variety of virtual workshops and activities. We’re confident you’ll find something you enjoy and even more sure that you’ll enjoy the people who make our community special.
Don’t workout alone. Now that physically going to gyms isn’t a reality for the moment staying active at home is pretty much your only choice. Don’t let that get in the way of you meeting other people who care about staying active. Invite one of your friends to your virtual workouts. If that’s not an option, join a live, virtual workout group where the trainer can actually see you and talk to you as you’re moving. That live interaction keeps you engaged and elevates the social aspect of your workout.
The best social media platforms for connecting online
Social media has morphed into so many things that we forget its original intent was to simply bring people together. It can still be that, depending on how you choose to use it. Here’s a short breakdown of how to be social on some of the more popular social platforms:
Facebook is perfect for staying in touch with friends and family, regardless of where they are in the world. Use the chat feature to start conversations with people you haven’t seen in a while. Former colleagues, old high school or college friends and, of course, your family who aren’t able to physically visit you at this time.
Twitter is useful for staying up to date with current events. Click on the explore button (magnifying glass icon on your smartphone), and you’ll see trending events. You’ll be able to start conversations with friends, and you can even comment on the event directly on your Twitter feed. To make the experience more social, follow what others are saying about the conversation and comment on their posts.
Instagram is all about sharing the highlights of your life. It can feel a bit vain sometimes, but use it as an opportunity to give people an insight into the things you like. You’ll obviously be inside a lot, but you can still share before and after photos of you baking cookies, books you’re reading or your favourite stay-at-home outfit. Use the stories option if you want to share something but don’t want it staying on your feed. Images on your stories will disappear after 24 hours.
Pinterest is probably the most underrated social media platform out there. The content is visual but not all about showing off. Instead, Pinterest really is about the sharing of ideas. If you want new knitting ideas or can’t figure out what to do with old clothes that don’t fit anymore, Pinterest is the spot. Think of it as a pretty version of Google. It really does function more like a search engine to figure things out than a social media platform.
If you’re looking for something longer to read than Twitter but not quite as long as a novel, check out Medium. With about 180 million unique views every month, it’s the go-to platform for reading articles about current events. Even Barack Obama uses Medium to share his thoughts. And if you’re really trying to up your social experience, try writing or reacting to a few articles. The Medium community tends to be very engaged so expect some comments back.
Boomerang wants to help you stay social
At Boomerang, we’re all about community. Our weekly virtual workshops and activities have connected tens of thousands of older Canadians and kept them active, inspired and fulfilled. We’ve long recognized the importance of seniors staying social and are continuing to build a community that will help you adjust to the realities of retirement.
Joining Boomerang is free and will connect you with an older group of Canadians who are curious to try new things and excited at the possibilities that Boomerang offers.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.