Like humans in any age group, seniors need to build strong community ties and social connections to thrive. Scientific studies have indicated that loneliness rivals obesity and smoking as a health risk, a reminder that seniors need to feel connected to the community around them.
Unfortunately, many adults find it difficult to maintain relationships or build strong community ties as they age. Creating new connections can also pose challenges. It is also important to consider each individual’s unique requirements for social connection. Studies on loneliness are often based on an individual’s perception of loneliness rather than a concrete measure. This is a good reminder that we all have different social needs. With that in mind, here are four ideas to build strong community ties and connections as you age.
Table of Contents
- Idea to Build Strong Community #1: Find a Community Group or Senior Center
- Idea to Build Strong Community #2: Join an Exercise Group
- Idea to Build Strong Community #3: Volunteering can Build Strong Community Ties
- Idea to Build Strong Community #4: Take Advantage of Technology
- A Final Word
Idea to Build Strong Community #1: Find a Community Group or Senior Center
Community groups come in many shapes and sizes. A group may gather around religion, volunteer work, or another shared interest. No matter the reason, regular meetings provide members with a sense of purpose.
Religious services offer a spiritual message as well as an ideal opportunity for social gathering. Attending a weekly congregation creates the opportunity to build bonds in the community. New friendships can blossom and old relationships can grow through regular social gatherings.
Of course, a community group doesn’t have to be religious. Whether you want to join a quilting group or a book club, the variety of available options could surprise you. You can find some of these groups online, and your local Senior Center can help you find others. Senior centers often provide a variety of opportunities for group classes, games, speakers, and outing. Contacting them can be a great place to start.
Idea to Build Strong Community #2: Join an Exercise Group
Exercise classes are a great way to mix activity and socialization. It does not have to be a formal class; a walking club is a great way to exercise and build community. If you are in a class less suited to chatting, such as Tai Chi or Yoga, you can get together for a post-class cup of coffee.
There are exercise classes designed for older adults, which can be a great option for folks with mobility limitations. If you are still moving around well, you may prefer more general classes. This can be an excellent way to connect with younger adults. Whether you work out at a local gym, or play in the 80+ division of a pond hockey tournament, your presence will inspire younger participants. This can offer opportunities to strike up conversations and build connections.
Idea to Build Strong Community #3: Volunteering can Build Strong Community Ties
Volunteer work is a terrific way to build connections and add to your community. Other activities may be expensive, but you can volunteer regardless of your finances!
If your local YMCA or community center offers before or after-school childcare, they may need support! Similarly, local schools may need help giving students one-on-one reading time. These programs often welcome volunteers, so you can provide an important service while building new friendships.
You may need to ask around, but there are no shortage of folks who could use a hand. We all need a sense of purpose, and volunteering can help to fill that void.
Idea to Build Strong Community #4: Take Advantage of Technology
The new generation of seniors is more familiar with technology, which makes it easier to communicate with distant friends. Smartphones, tablets, and computers all offer ways to enhance long-distance conversations. Video chats can improve the quality of any conversation. This is particularly true for aging adults with young grandchildren. While a child may be too young to engage in a phone call, they can connect over a video chat.
Senior “meet-up” groups that gather for web calls on Skype, Zoom, and similar services are also more popular than ever. These groups offer a chance to find people with similar interests. If you have a niche interest or live in a remote area, group chats can be an excellent way to build your social connections.
Technology is not a perfect substitute for human interaction. However, it is a convenient option to keep in touch with the people we care about. Newer devices may be overly complicated, but there are many senior-friendly options that are easier to use.
A Final Word
Seniors with a sense of community have someone to share their experience with, an essential component of human health. The loss of a sense of purpose is a significant concern for aging individuals, but a strong connection to others can be the perfect antidote. Some old relationships will fall away as life changes and roles shift. However, as long as we are open to finding new life in these changes, we can build connections that allow us to live rich, fulfilled lives at any age.