8 Ways to Stay Connected With Friends and Family in Retirement

Experts offer tips on how to stay social and connected when you are no longer in the workforce. 

One of the unexpected outcomes of the pandemic is what has become known as the great retirement. "According to recent studies, nearly 3 million people took an early retirement starting in 2020 when the pandemic was raging wild. And while this phenomena has provided millions more people time, it also holds the potential to lead to negative impacts on their mental and physical well being," explains Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., author of Fragile Power: Why Having It All Is Never Enough.  One of the main things he assesses when starting to work with a new patient who is recently retired is how well they are managing their social networks and whether they are socially isolated and lonely. "From a medical standpoint, we know that social isolation and loneliness lead to a host of negative physical and emotional outcomes that include depression and anxiety, addiction, suicidality and dementia, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke." Here are 8 ways to stay connected with friends and family in retirement. 

1
Schedule Time to Connect

A group of five seniors taking a selfie in a retirement community lounge
iStock / Drazen Zigic

Dr. Hokemeyer suggests scheduling time to connect. "Look at maintaining social contacts in retirement as a part time job. Don't expect them to just materialize," he says. "Spend at least three hours a week proactively reaching out to people who are currently in your social network as well as reconnecting with people from your earlier life and making new friends."

2
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

senior man and woman dancing and laughing about old people jokes
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone a bit, says Mighty Health health coach Tequisha McLaughlin, NBC-HWC. "Retirement is a whole new chapter of life which means your interests and goals may be different. Take this new time in life to learn and grow," she explains. You can do this by getting involved with your community by volunteering or joining a club of interest. "Schedule regular phone or video calls with family and friends, and for an extra fun spin, write letters to loved ones."

3
Network on LinkedIn

Person working on a computer on LinkedIn
Shutterstock

Don't delete your LinkedIn profile just because you are no longer in the workforce, says Dr. Hokemeyer. "While I don't advise spending loads of time on social media, I do recommend setting up a LinkedIn account and spending a measured amount of time on it." He recommends spending 30 minutes three times a week on the site to stay connected with colleagues and to keep apprised of what developments are happening in your field. 

4
Set Social Media Limits

sitthiphong//Shutterstock

Avoid spending excessive amounts of time on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, suggests Dr. Hokemeyer. "Sure it's ok to log on a few times a week and scroll, but newly emerging data indicate spending obsessive amounts of time leads to feelings of isolation and inadequacy," he explains. "Retirement is an opportunity to live your life on your terms out in the real world, not tethered to a computer screen as a voyeur into other people's varnished lives."

5
FInd Fitness Hobbies

people playing pickleball
bhpix / Shutterstock

A sure way to connect with others similar to yourself is through exercising, says McLaughlin. "It is of the utmost importance to not only exercise your body but your mind as well as you age. There is no better way to make exercise fun than to connect with others through activities like pickleball, lawn sports, golf, swimming, or croquet," she says. 

6
Find a Spiritual, Recovery, or Religious Community

Senior friend group eating treats
Shutterstock

Data indicates people who have spiritual lives where they actively participate in something greater than themselves lead happier, healthier lives, says Dr. Hokemeyer. "This doesn't mean you need to rejoin a religion that you find outdated or that rejects fundamental truths of who you are. It does mean that you will find healing, comfort and hope by connecting with something like nature or a god of your understanding," he explains. 

7
Take Walks Around Your Neighborhood

Group Of Active Senior Friends Enjoying Hiking Through Countryside Walking Along Track Together
Shutterstock

An easy way to get or stay connected with your neighbors? Take a walk. "For decades I've been advising my patients who suffer from anxiety or depression to 'move a muscle and change a thought'. In retirement, we need to find constructive ways to channel our intelligence and ambition into something productive and healthy. Walking through your neighborhood on a regular basis will enable you to generate a host of feel good hormones as well as meet your neighbors and establish a relationship with them," he says. 

 RELATED: 2 Alternatives That Are Just As Beneficial as Walking 10,000 Steps

8
Take Initiative

A senior latinx couple enjoying a picnic on a blanket in the woods and playing cards
iStock

Overall, do not wait to connect, recommends McLaughlin. "Take the initiative and be active in keeping connections going. If you cannot find an event that is a fit for you, try hosting. Set up a card tournament or ask others to bring refreshments and food to simply enjoy the company of others," she says.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
Filed Under