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7 Quick Fixes for Loneliness After 50 That Actually Work

Experts share their best tips for breaking the cycle of isolation.

If you feel like you're the only person spending more time alone as you age, it turns out you're far from it. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Time Use Survey, which has been turned into a handy graphic and widely shared, most people find themselves increasingly isolated from others as the years go by.

The time you spend with children, family members, and friends steadily declines after your thirties, leaving you to spend the bulk of your time with your partner (if you have one) and co-workers until retirement. By the age of 70, people spend an average of one hour with friends and their non-spouse family members, and spend an average of eight hours per day alone, the survey suggests.

Ultimately, this can take a serious toll on our mental and physical health. In fact, in 2019, the U.S. Surgeon General declared loneliness a public health crisis.

However, loneliness isn't a foregone conclusion—the fact that it's so widespread means there are many other people out there hoping to connect, just like you. By pausing to reflect on and deepen your current relationships—and considering where you might find new ones—you can greatly increase your odds of staying connected well into your senior years. Ready to jumpstart the process? These are the seven best tips for fixing loneliness after 50, according to therapists.

RELATED: The 5 Easiest Ways to Make Friends in Your 50s.

Avoid comparisons.

Senior male friends walking in public park and laughing while holding water bottles

Loneliness is a feeling, and you don't actually have to be alone to feel it. Licensed therapist Suzette Bray, LMFT, says that comparing yourself to others with busier social lives can leave you feeling lonely even when you're surrounded by others.

To address this, she suggests normalizing the notion that everyone feels lonely at times and that your own feelings of loneliness don't indicate a failing or inadequacy on your part.

"Recognizing that everyone's journey is unique and that it's okay to feel lonely sometimes helps mitigate negative self-judgment and opens up space to take steps to reach out and connect," Bray tells Best Life.

Whether your feelings of loneliness were sparked by a death, divorce, retiring from work, changing dynamics with your growing children, your health, or any other reason, try offering yourself some understanding and compassion before trying to fix the issue.

Try activity sampling.

Seniors do Qi Gong or Tai Chi exercise in a wellness course in nature
Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

Next, Bray suggests embracing a new chapter of self-discovery by sampling different activities. Besides helping you identify new passions, this can help you bond with others who have similar interests.

"So often older adults have devoted their lives to work, child care, and caring for even older relatives, finding themselves without much of an idea about what they enjoy doing," says Bray. "Sampling a lot of new activities can help folks figure out what they enjoy and can lead them to finding companions who also enjoy these activities."

She adds that it's important not to wait on others to start doing the things you love. "Taking the initiative to engage in activities alone can lead to unexpected opportunities to meet new people. It also builds self-confidence and independence, reminding you that you don't need to rely on others for fulfillment and social interaction."

RELATED: The 10 Best Senior Dating Sites to Help You Find Love.


Older woman and family volunteering collecting donations

Volunteering alleviates feelings of loneliness in a few ways: Besides being an opportunity to meet new people, it can also help remind you of humanity's more virtuous side, building a shared sense of purpose and positivity.

"Offer your skills or interests to a local organization that you resonate with," suggests Ray Christner, PsyD, NCSP, ABPP, who specializes in cognitive behavior therapy at his practice in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Not sure where to begin? Colleen Marshall, MA, LMFT, vice president of clinical care at the therapist search site Two Chairs, says to take stock of your passions, past and present.

"Maybe it is reading to children at the library, or helping with your local animal shelter, or volunteering at your local hospital," she says. "Often the skills you have in your professional life can help nonprofits as well."

Reconnect with past relationships.

Waist up portrait of three beautiful older women having fun together while holding coffee

Sometimes there's no discernible reason for our isolation—we simply drift apart due to the demands of our day-to-day lives. If you've noticed life getting in the way of meaningful social connections, schedule some time to reach out and reconnect, Bray suggests.

"We mean to connect, but somehow it just doesn't happen," the therapist says. She notes that past relationships can be "especially rewarding" because your shared history is likely to offer instant topics of conversation and mutual interests to explore.

RELATED: 6 Mindfulness Tips to Feel Amazing Every Day in Retirement.

Schedule time to deepen your current connections.

grandpa playing with grandkids on tablet
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Marshall says that it's also crucial to keep developing and deepening the relationships you already have—even if you only have a few. She recommends scheduling these chances to connect at least once a week to help build momentum.

"This could be with a friend, family member, grandchild, or really anyone that is important to you. Having a regularly scheduled visit for connection can help deepen a relationship you already have and also remind you when you might feel lonely that you have a touch point with someone you care about coming soon," she says.

"If the person you want to connect with can't do it weekly, think about several people that could be on your schedule so you have at least one touch point a week for a meaningful check-in," she adds.

Try "loving kindness meditation."

A woman wearing activewear lays on her back on her yoga mat in Shavasana pose
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

Just as you can feel lonely in the presence of others, there are also ways to strengthen your feelings of closeness when you're alone. Bray suggests trying a "loving kindness meditation" when your loved ones are far away.

"This meditation practice involves sending well wishes and positive intentions to various individuals: yourself, loved ones, acquaintances (think the barista or bus driver, the mail carrier or the guy down the street), challenging individuals in our lives, and ultimately, to the world at large," explains Bray.

"This form of meditation goes beyond calming the mind; it nurtures a sense of compassion and love for oneself and others, reducing loneliness and easing solitude," she adds.

RELATED: 10 Amazing Volunteering Ideas That Will Make You Happier After 50.


close up of female hands holding a green envelope

Christner says that writing can also help fix your feelings of loneliness after 50. Though even private journaling can make you feel less alone with your thoughts, he recommends using it as a way of reaching out to others.

"Writing down words is so powerful. It means more now than ever in this digital age," he says. "Send your loved ones notes. A personal, handwritten note can make someone's day. It can include a memory with the person, an expression of gratitude, or words of encouragement."

Chances are you'll make the recipient feel a little less lonely, too.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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