It’s no secret that life after 55 is full of challenges. Whether you’re confronting formidable changes or enduring uncomfortable monotony, it’s normal to feel like your empty nesting and retirement years look more lackluster than golden.
The pandemic has compounded the problem by adding social isolation to the mix. We’ve been cut off from our friends, families, communities and routines. Our sense of certainty—unfounded as it may have been—has disappeared.
In the past, openly acknowledging sadness, uneasiness, hopelessness or restlessness has been taboo. But if you are experiencing those feelings, you are far from alone. In fact, according to an August 2020 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four (24%) adults ages 65 and older reported living with anxiety or depression.
Seven Ideas for Feeling Less Isolated
Even when the discomfort might feel overpowering, there is always somewhere to turn to build a community or seek support. Check out some of our favorite resources below:
- Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line: Sometimes one phone call can go a long way. If you are an adult over 60 or living with disabilities and are feeling depressed, lonely, isolated, anxious or just want someone to talk to, you might benefit from the Friendship Line’s services. They can be reached 24/7 at 800.971.0016. You can also request that The Friendship Line proactively checks in on you or a friend by filling out this form.
- Meetup: One great way to build a community is through shared interests. Looking to hone a skill, perfect your craft, join a book club or meet new people? Simply plug in your zip code and see which groups are active near you!
- Senior Planet: Senior Planet is a technology-focused program from AARP that hosts courses, programs and activities to help adults 60 and over learn new skills, save money, get in shape and make new friends. With six in-person US locations (and more coming soon), plus an active online presence, Senior Planet offers both multi-week and one-off courses in technology-related fields like digital photography, social media, online job searches and more. You can also sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date on the latest Senior Planet events.
- Postcrossing: If pen and paper is more your style, check out Postcrossing. You can connect with people internationally by sending and receiving real paper postcards facilitated on this free, easy, online platform. Postcrossing can help expand your social horizons beyond your own community all the way around the world.
- Sixty and Me: In addition to providing resources and content for older adults, Sixty and Me offers a robust community of over 500,000 that is free to join and participate in. You can enjoy daily articles, a very active Facebook group and new videos from founder Margaret Manning at least 4 times a week. In fact, a recent survey of the community found that 63% felt less lonely as a result of Sixty and Me!
- Tap into local resources: Many municipalities around the United States have a Department of Aging that can provide you with hyperlocal resources aimed at increasing your quality of life. Give it a try in your community by typing “[your city or state] + department of aging” into Google. Once you’ve found your local Department of Aging, you can contact them to find activities, events or other initiatives that fit your needs.
- Consider homesharing: After months of uncertainty, many of us are seeking safety, comfort and a sense of control wherever they can be found. Home is the logical place to maximize those feelings, and living together with a housemate who has similar interests and lifestyle is an effective way to broaden your circles and encourage you to get out more.
When you’re feeling down, know that every day presents an opportunity to try new things, meet great people and enhance your quality of life. What works for you when you’re feeling isolated? Let us know in the comments below!
If you need help now, please call 911 or contact SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).