In the modern, interconnected world, it seems almost impossible that anyone would feel lonely. With most of us having smartphones in our pockets, being able to speak to a friend or family member within seconds can make it feel like loneliness should be a thing of the past.
Yet sadly, this is not the case, particularly for those in retirement. Indeed, figures from Age UK show that 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely.
Worryingly, new research now reveals that not only can loneliness be isolating after a lifetime of working and spending time with friends and family, but it can also be damaging to your health.
Find out more, and how you can stave off loneliness in later life.
Loneliness may increase your risk of heart disease
In June, Sky News reported on data that showed loneliness could increase the risk of heart disease in individuals with diabetes. The research examined data for more than 18,000 adults aged between 37 to 73.
Looking exclusively at individuals with diabetes, the research discovered that loneliness was a bigger factor in coronary heart disease than:
Of course, even if you don’t have diabetes, the study’s findings might suggest that loneliness could present a serious risk to your health.
With this in mind, it’s important for individuals to seek methods that keep loneliness at bay.
Read on to discover a few ways of doing so, either for yourself or for someone who you may be worried about.
Stay in touch with friends and family in retirement
Interestingly, one of the other findings of the study into loneliness and health is that it’s very much a case of quality over quantity when it comes to socialising.
As study author Professor Qi explains: “The quality of social contact appears to be more important for heart health in people with diabetes than the number of engagements.”
With this in mind, it makes sense to prioritise staying in touch with those who you have the strongest bonds with, such as your family and close friends.
Make an effort to see these individuals, suggesting activities to do and organising days out. As quality is more important than quantity, these only have to be semi-regular to help you avoid loneliness.
Remember to be an active participant in seeing your nearest and dearest, rather than waiting for them to suggest meet-ups and activities. By maintaining these relationships, you can spend time with those you love, while also protecting your health.
Develop a routine for later life
One of the most common recommendations for keeping loneliness at bay in retirement is to develop a routine.
Having a schedule is one of the most useful aspects of working. The time you spend on your occupation defines your free time, making it more valuable and helping you to fill it effectively.
However, many retirees can find that they lose their sense of purpose without work there to fill the void. In turn, you can start to feel lonely as you have time to kill and no restrictions on how to spend it.
As a result, it’s key to develop a routine for later life that suits you. Try to wake up and go to bed at similar times as you would have done when going to work.
Similarly, try to build regular activities into your day. Whether that’s a morning walk or a trip out to pick up a latte once a week, having a routine can be instrumental in not being lonely.
Even if this doesn’t involve seeing other people, it can help you learn to enjoy your own company and live independently.
Find new communities to be a part of
Retirement is often seen as an end of a significant part of your life. But actually, while this can be true, it can also be a brand-new beginning.
That’s why, as part of building a routine, another way to stay social and in touch with other people is by finding new communities to be a part of.
This could be a social group of like-minded individuals, or something with a practical focus such as a fitness society or a book club.
It could also involve volunteering in some capacity. Think about the causes that mean something to you or that you’re interested in, and see whether you could donate your time and experience.
In a similar vein to keeping a routine, volunteering can offer the dual benefits of defining your free time and giving you structure, as well as an opportunity to meet people and form new relationships.
Get in touch
If you’d like help organising your wealth so you can live the kind of retirement lifestyle you want, please do speak to us at Cordiner Wealth.
Email email@example.com or call 0113 262 1242 to get in touch today.