Living as a single senior means handling many of life’s ups and downs on your own. But being single doesn’t mean you’re alone. In fact, more than 17 million Americans ages 65 and older are unmarried—that’s about 16 percent of all unmarried people in the United States.
While many people choose a single lifestyle, others find themselves unexpectedly single and need some adjustment. For those seniors, here are a few life hacks to help balance and support you in your new lifestyle.
Build a social circle
One key to remaining optimistic as you age is building a support system outside of or in addition to family. Having an active social circle can boost your mood, build your health, and ensure that you have someone you can count on for support, no matter what.
In addition to friends, a network of caregivers, therapists, religious leaders, physicians or neighbors is also important. If you anticipate a difficult doctor’s appointment, bring someone along who is a good listener. Two sets of ears are better than one.
Make an effort
Bringing along a friend or neighbor to new social events, like dinners or outings, can make it easier to step out of your comfort zone. “Getting out and about is really important,” says Jeff Salter, founder and CEO of Caring Senior Service, a Texas-based service that provides in-home care for seniors. “Studies have shown that being isolated leads to depression, and depression itself leads to stress, which causes a health decline.”
If you’re looking to meet new people, consider throwing a dinner party with your other single friends, and request that everyone bring a guest. Don’t forget to reciprocate and accept invites from friends and acquaintances, even though you might not initially be interested.
Use technology to your advantage
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you should be reserved about seeking out new group experiences and information. Whether you’re looking for solo travel advice or tips for living on a budget, you can find myriad resources online to enlighten you.
Studies show that seniors who engage with technology may increase their mental agility. Online travel and book clubs, health blogs, financial columns and everything in-between are only a click away using an online search engine. Stay up-to-date on topics that interest you and connected to people who inspire you.
Pick up where you left off
Once you fall out of a routine it can be hard to pick up old hobbies and habits, but reigniting that passion can inspire purposefulness and fend off isolation.
“One question we ask people is, ‘Is there something you like to do that you’re not able to do anymore?’” Salter says. “We make sure we help them get back into that routine.”
Maybe you stopped going to a weekly breakfast meeting after a nasty cold, or you stopped tending your garden after a bad fall. Besides professional services, there are creative ways to keep your mind active and your hands busy after a sidetracked routine, like switching to window farming if you’re no longer able to tend a large outdoor garden.
“We love it when we can help that person that’s on their own and get them back into the community doing what they like to do,” Salter says.