Maintaining or Building Relationships While Aging in Place
Last updated in November 2018
For many seniors, aging in place means living alone. While many of us enjoy independence, isolation can lead to depression, failing health, an increased chance of death, cognitive decline, and other serious issues. Staying connected is key to remaining healthy and maintaining a high quality of life.
The village model helps address many of the social components of aging in place. Other ways to stay connected include:
- Shared housing: Getting a roommate, from a tenant for your basement apartment to a pal or relative who lives in a spare bedroom, can both reduce your loneliness and act as a kind of bulwark for monitoring health issues.
- Join something: Religious groups and places of worship offer social frameworks and, often, services for seniors. Volunteering with an organization, from a performing arts center (ushering, manning the snack bar) to a nearby homeless shelter, ties seniors into their communities and offers both social support and a sense of purpose.
- Hit the senior center: Most communities have senior centers that offer both free and paid programming, from yoga classes to book clubs. Becoming a regular at an activity has the added bonus of keeping you accountable to others, which can be helpful, as risks of health or cognitive issues increase with age.
- Go online: Yes, too much screen time can lead to social isolation. But email, online chat groups, social media, and other tech-powered communication can also keep seniors plugged in to relatives, medical providers, and friends. One good resource for seniors living alone: The Elder Orphans Facebook group has more than 8,000 members who offer each other online emotional and practical support. The Virtual Senior Center also sponsors chats, classes, and other virtual interactions.