The importance of community in retirement
Work provides a lot more than just a paycheck. A job gives a person daily structure and routine. It provides regular interaction with people and mental stimulation. It makes you feel needed, valued and respected. At its most basic, it’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning and venture out into the world.
Many people report increased loneliness and isolation when they retire. Suddenly the networks that they have developed over the years – and often interact with every day – are gone. An increasing number of people over 65 are also living alone, heightening the feelings of isolation.
There can also be medical implications attached to loneliness. A UK study found that socially isolated people are more likely to be admitted to hospital or residential care, and to be admitted at a younger age than their counterparts who have a strong support network of family and friends.
So, it’s very important to build and nurture a community in retirement. This can be made up of family and friends or expanded to include new relationships that you build during this next chapter of your life.
Retirement can often mean relocation, either downsizing to a smaller home, moving on for a sea change or entering a retirement community. These changes can impact upon your current social networks, so you need to consider the implications carefully. Is your new home still close to your family and friends? Is it easily accessible by public transport? Are there new community groups that you would like to be a part of? Don’t let a physical move disconnect you from the people who enrich your life.
The modern world brings with it an unprecedented level of busyness for everyone, so it can be useful to schedule in social time with your friends and family. Retirement gives you the time to work around the schedule of others, so try to lock in a weekly lunch date or Saturday afternoon glass of wine ahead of time.
You can also look at retirement as an ideal opportunity to make some new friends. There are community groups for just about every pass time, so whether you enjoy cycling, tennis or bridge you will be able to meet up with like minded individuals in your area.
Relationships are a source of great joy in life, so don’t let a change in your own world impact on how you interact with others. Take the time to nurture your social networks and create your own community so you can enjoy your best years.
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