5 proactive ways to combat loneliness

According to Age UK, 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom 2 million are aged 75+ - with 1.9 million older people feeling ignored or invisible. The physical effects of loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and a lack of activity and social interaction can have serious negative effects on our minds and bodies. That’s why it’s important to take a proactive approach to combating loneliness in our retirement years, and below are some tips to support you in doing so!


1. Strike up a conversation

If you are feeling lonely and still have mobility, there are usually plenty of local classes that you can attend. Whether they are active classes such as yoga, swimming and aerobics, or more relaxed such as coffee mornings, craft mornings or a WI meeting, it’s important to speak to new people, if only to keep your brain engaged. If classes aren’t your thing, how about striking up a conversation with a neighbour or someone in a local shop? The best friendships can come from the least likely of places, and you never know - you may end up speaking to another lonely person who is looking for a friend.


If you struggle speaking to others, make it a goal to speak to one new person each day, or even to smile at as many people as you go through each day. Chatting, smiling and laughing can all help to release endorphins, and will give your brain and body a much-needed boost.


2. Volunteer

How about volunteering? Plenty of local charities, businesses and hospitals benefit from the hard work that volunteers support with! You can find opportunities for as little as 2-4 hours a week, and there are plenty of places that need an extra pair of hands! You may find yourself hanging clothes in a charity shop or making teas in hospital, and volunteering can give you a real sense of purpose in retirement, as well as keeping your brain engaged and allowing you to frequently meet and engage with new people.


3. Adopt a pet 

If you are still relatively mobile, adopting a pet may help to combat signs of loneliness. By having another presence with you in your home, you will feel less lonely and you may have more of an outlet for your thoughts and feelings, encouraging you to talk out loud again! If you were to get a dog, this would encourage you to get outside regularly (at least once a day!) and you may meet other dog owners and make friends this way. If you opt for a lower maintenance pet, simply having another being to look after can engage your brain and keep you mentally stimulated. 


4. Join a befriending scheme

There are several schemes available, and you may be able to find some information on local schemes that you can join. There are also plenty of options on a national scale, such as a Casserole Club where volunteers share extra portions of food with someone who is lonely or unable to cook for themselves regularly. Schemes are also available where volunteers can pay you a weekly visit, take you for a drive or even give you a weekly call to check in on how you’re doing. Lastly, there are volunteer schemes available that can support you with household chores if this is an area you’re struggling with. The NHS has some great info on these schemes, so be sure to reach out or do some research into what’s available in your local area.


5. Catch up with neighbours

Do you know the names of your neighbours? If not, now is the time to learn! Especially in our later years, it’s important that we have a support system should we need it. Be sure to crack a smile when you see them next, introduce yourself or ask a question. You never know when you may need to borrow some sugar or milk next! You may even be able to create a local Casserole Club within your street or community, where your neighbours all share meals with the most vulnerable in your area. 


Here at The Lifestyle Service, our holistic view of retirement is what makes us great. We are committed to supporting ladies in their later years in making the most of their well-deserved break, ensuring that they take care of their minds as well as their bodies. For more information on how we can help you, contact us today!