- Written by Tom Blake Tom Blake
Last fall, CBS News featured an article on their website titled, “Former surgeon general sounds the alarm on the loneliness epidemic.”
In the article, the former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated loneliness can increase the possibility of heart disease and stroke and can even accelerate Alzheimer’s disease. He added that loneliness might be as bad for health as smoking.
The article mentioned that about 30 percent of people older than 65 live alone, and by 85 that percentage exceeds 50 percent. Murthy declared loneliness a public-health epidemic.
Each week, I publish a complimentary online e-newsletter. I recently asked my subscribers how they deal with single-senior loneliness.
Based on their suggestions, here are 15 tips for combating single-senior loneliness:
1. Get off the couch and out of the house. Pursue activities you enjoy. Attend diverse cultural and social events. Find group activities several days or evenings a week.
2. Incorporate as much social interaction into your life as possible.
3. Maintain contact with a small group of close friends. Share birthdays, holidays, and life events.
Join a book club. Create a group of former employees and get together once a month to socialize.
4. Interact with people of all ages. Take a free class at a local college.
5. Never miss a regularly scheduled appointment, whether it be dental, medical, or at the salon.
6. Granted, not everybody has the financial means or physical ability to travel. But for those who can, traveling on a tour or with a group is a good way to make new friends.
7. Exercise regularly at a gym. Many facilities have SilverSneakers programs for the 60-plus age group. Not only will it ease loneliness, but you will also get fit.
8. Volunteer. Where? The choices are endless. Drive for Meals on Wheels. Be a greeter at the local airport. Be a docent at a museum. Assist at your house of worship, senior center, animal shelter, or zoo.
9. Get a dog. You will have a new best friend, plus reasons to laugh and cuddle. Walk the dog where others walk their dogs. Friendly dogs are often “chick or bachelor” magnets. Everybody loves to pet them.
10. While waiting in line at Starbucks, say hello to the person behind or in front of you.
11. Join the local orchid society club or botanical garden group.
12. Get a part-time job at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, your local hardware store, or anyplace that welcomes and needs senior help.
13. Have a once-a-month potluck dinner at your home. Invite friends to bring new friends. Keep expanding your circle of friends.
14. For people who are limited physically and cannot get out of the house, interact via computer on the internet. It’s not a perfect solution, but it can help.
The internet is also a great way to keep contact with old friends, relatives, and classmates who live far away.
15. Still need ideas? Check out Meetup.com. It’s free. They have thousands of meetings across the country. You can choose activities that fit your interest.
Engaging in activities in which a person finds fulfillment — not solely to be busy and take up time — can reduce loneliness.
Remember, a few close friends can help combat loneliness. But, you cannot sit back and wait for people to come to you.
You must initiate contact. Smile, be friendly, ask questions, or start a conversation with someone at Costco or your local market. Soon, your loneliness will be a thing of the past.
For dating information, previous articles, or to sign up for Tom’s complimentary, weekly e-newsletter, go to www.FindingLoveAfter50.com.