10 simple ways to stay social in retirement

Feb 21, 2024
Here are simple ways you can stay happy and social in your retirement years. Source: Getty Images.

As we approach retirement, financial considerations naturally take centre stage, but let’s not overlook the vital role of social well-being.

The transition to retirement can sometimes bring unexpected moments of loneliness, especially as children and neighbours move away. Older adults may suddenly find themselves alone, unsure of how to address this situation.

Recent research has shown that one in five older Australians feel loneliness, especially those aged 75 and over.

Recognising the importance of social connection is crucial, as research reveals a connection between loneliness and physical health issues, such as a higher risk of premature mortality, coronary heart disease, strokes, and dementia. By fostering social engagement, we not only improve our emotional wellbeing but also contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling retirement journey.

Here are my top ten tips to stay social, happy and healthy in retirement:

Join a social group like Starts at 60 Meet ups

When we retire, we often lose the friendships we developed through our working life. Hosted by volunteers from the Starts at 60 community, Starts at 60 Meet Ups takes place once a month across the country where attendees catch up over coffee or lunch, and most importantly good company. Most events are held at the same location on the same day of each month so you can get to know a group near you and build friendships in your own community.

Travel with a group

With retirement often comes travel with three-quarters of Australians aged over 50 already planning their next big holiday but why not travel with a group? Travelling with a group allows you to see all the world has to see while developing lasting friendships with likeminded retirees.

Many Travel at 60 partners facilitates tailored group travel for seniors, allowing you to travel care-free with someone else doing the heavy lifting of planning and booking transfers and activities.

Become a volunteer

Volunteering isn’t just a great way for you to give back to your community, but it can provide immense benefits for retirees. While providing a sense of purpose, new friends and valuable skills, volunteering has been linked to lower rates of depression and even lower rates of mortality.

Volunteering to take a leadership role in a club is a great way to get to know other members and can provide new skills. There’s a multitude of local organisations that rely on volunteers, so it won’t be hard to find one catering to your interests and schedule.

Back to school

Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young”. Hitting the books again is a great way to grow your knowledge while forging social connections.

There are opportunities to suit every interest and schedule, including enrolling in Uni, undergoing a TAFE course or even joining a local class, whether it be learning a new language or cooking.

Join a gym class

Why not work out with friends and reap the benefits of staying active and social at once? Remaining physically active can help prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease and decrease your chance of a fall by improving your strength and flexibility. Meanwhile, you’re releasing endorphins and avoiding loneliness and depression. 

If you’re a little hesitant to join a typical gym class, many now offer classes catered for seniors including Zumba, gentle yoga, stretching and Tai Chi.

Use the internet to track down old friends

The internet can serve as an incredible tool to track down and reach out to old friends from school, Uni, work or old neighbours. Often raising children and going to work makes it difficult to maintain friendships, but the social media age makes it easier than ever to find someone with only their name for reference.

Rent out a room in your home

While unconventional, renting out a room in your home is ideal for retirees looking to develop social connections while coping with rising living costs. Online platforms such as Airbnb and Roommates.com can help facilitate, providing the option of a long-term renter or welcoming travellers for a short period of time.

Walk and Talk

Walking groups are a great way to get in some low-impact exercise while creating a social routine to not only forge new friendships but maintain them. Walking groups will also help you discover corners of your neighbourhood you may have not explored yet.

Many older people are taking advantage of shopping centre walks in the comfort of an undercover environment, often window shopping and catching up for a coffee.

As you progress you can even go for longer and more strenuous hikes with your newfound walking friends.

Flex your green thumb

Gardening is often a hobby thought to be done in our home, but it doesn’t have to be. Many communities throughout Australia have taken to local gardens maintained by volunteers. These gardens grow everything from flowers to fresh produce to herbs and are a great way to do something you love while forging social connections and giving back to your local community.

Share your skills with your grandchildren

Social connections are not just for our peers with evidence finding intergenerational benefits hold immense benefits for all parties. Both can teach each other new skills while providing companionship. 

Why not share your skills with your grandchildren, whether it’s an instrument, a new language or how to make a favourite dish? You could even learn a new skill together with an abundance of tutorials and how-to guides available online.

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