Heal Blog

How Seniors Can Improve Social and Psychological Well-Being Post-Pandemic

July 13, 2022

As we welcome the beginning of summer 2022, many of us are pleased to see that the harshest plights of the pandemic appear to be behind us. As parts of the country and businesses continue to open up and we kick off a “new normal,” all of us—seniors included—have greater opportunities and outlets to prioritize social and psychological well-being in a safe manner.

When you are able to revitalize these aspects of your life, you can ultimately increase life satisfaction and even improve other health outcomes. With that in mind, here are some of Heal’s top tips for seniors to readjust to the wider world in the post-COVID era.

 

1. Make plans to meet with your inner circle

Now that the hardest days of social distancing and “pandemic pods” are in the past, this summer is a great time to reconnect with others face to face. Perhaps you would like to reach out to your family members, long-term friends, or even former co-workers to enjoy the rewards of socializing that many of us took for granted before 2020.

A pleasant day of connecting with others may include:

  • Meeting up at a park
  • Catching up over coffee or tea
  • Taking a stroll with someone in your neighborhood
  • Inviting friends or family members to your home or care facility

If you are able to, traveling to see a friend or relative—whether by car, train, or plane—could add anticipation, variety, and excitement to your life that many people (seniors especially) have lacked since COVID hit.

 

2. Resume hobbies and find new activities

Maybe you contracted COVID and required time to recover from illness, or perhaps you had to self-isolate for an extended period of time. In any case, treat yourself and add merriment to your days by getting back to your favorite activities. You may even discover a new hobby that will bring you joy.

Ideas may include:

  • Enjoying evening strolls in your area
  • Trying a new fitness activity such as water aerobics or tai chi
  • Attending a concert or play
  • Going to see a movie in theaters (some of which may offer discounts for seniors)
  • Enrolling in a healthy cooking class
  • Learning a new skill at a recreational or community center

Of course, you do not need to leave your home to enjoy certain hobbies and interests, such as reading, listening to music, and learning. However, the added social aspect can enhance your enjoyment of certain activities and provide easy conversation starters. Plus, sharing common interests with others is known to increase bonding and a sense of belonging, which can especially help seniors combat feelings of isolation.

 

3. Join a support group

During later stages of life, seniors tend to face a set of unique challenges. They may struggle with certain medical conditions, experience unwanted side effects from medications, or may generally have a tough time adjusting to and accepting physical changes associated with aging. In addition, seniors typically have fewer opportunities to socialize day to day, which can contribute to feelings of sadness or loneliness.

However, it is important to remember that you are not alone in your struggles. Many seniors will face similar feelings and experiences as you do. Finding a like-minded group of people to discuss these challenges in a safe space can help you overcome the burden of feeling like you are entirely on your own.

There are countless support groups available, both in person and even virtually, in which you can find common ground and community with others. Such groups may include:

  • Grief groups for widows and widowers
  • Groups for adults with specific health conditions and medical problems such as diabetes, different types of cancer, and cognitive decline
  • Groups for seniors coming to terms with a lack of mobility
  • Support groups for adults struggling with depression or anxiety

If you are unsure where to find groups in your area or online, do not hesitate to ask for help from a friend, family member, or caregiver.

 

4. Get out of your comfort zone and do not limit yourself

If you are hesitant to re-enter the social world, are worried about trying something new, or are simply a shy person, the goal is to take one step at a time in the right direction. It is understandable to be nervous to meet new people or engage in new hobbies as a senior, particularly if you don’t feel like your old self or are self-conscious otherwise. Also, it may take an adjustment period to get back into the swing of things if you did not have the ability to socialize with others due to COVID or any other number of factors.

No matter what the case may be, you will likely find that the proven joys and perks of socialization will triumph over any anxieties you may have. In fact, studies show that social participation can positively influence diseases, mortality, and quality of life.

 

So go ahead and call a friend, sign up for a new class, or find a support group to help you come to terms with a unique concern you may have been struggling with silently. The benefits of doing so are ready and waiting for you.