<!–[CDATA[Older adults are finding themselves unexpectedly single in greater numbers than ever before. Sometimes it is because of the death of a spouse. Other times the senior has experienced a “gray divorce,” a term used to describe the significant increase in senior divorce rates. A Pew Research Center survey revealed that divorce rates for seniors in this country has doubled since 1990.
In many cases, this is all happening at a time when the senior’s social circle is also shrinking. Retirement often means the loss of work friends. Friends and neighbors might relocate to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Rebuilding your social circle and starting to date again can be stressful at any age, but it is especially so during retirement years. Here are a few ideas to help you navigate both.
How to Expand Your Social Network During Retirement
Whether you are grieving the loss of a partner or coming to terms with a divorce, rebuilding your circle of friends will likely help improve your quality of life. Sharing life’s struggles with peers who can empathize is important, but meeting new people can be challenging.
Here are a few ideas that may help you expand your social network when you are a single retiree:
- Volunteer: Older adults who volunteer their time reap many rewards. From lower rates of depression to a longer life span, volunteering is good for your mental and physical well-being. It also provides you with an opportunity to meet like-minded people who share your interests. To find a volunteer project near you, call your local United Way office or use Volunteer Match to search online.
- Join a fitness club: Many fitness clubs and YMCA branches have programs designed exclusively for older adults. They usually offer seniors a discount on membership fees, too. Engaging in water aerobics, indoor walking groups, and weight training will help you age well while expanding your social network.
- Take a class: Continuing to learn during retirement is another way to protect your health while meeting people. People who keep learning are at lower risk for cognitive decline and dementia. Whether it is a watercolor class, a foreign language workshop, or learning how to play a musical instrument, you’ll likely enjoy yourself and make new friends.
- Join the senior center: Most communities have a local senior center. They typically offer programs and activities for members that range from luncheons to yoga. Some even offer transportation for older adults who no longer drive. Membership fees are usually very affordable.
If you are successful in expanding your social circle, you might meet someone you are interested in dating. But if you don’t, another avenue to consider is online dating services. With a few safety precautions, you might be able to meet someone you find interesting.
Online Dating Safety Tips for Seniors
If you decide you are ready to try online dating, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Older adults have fallen victim to scammers who use dating sites to target seniors for fraud and identity theft.
Here are a few safety precautions to keep in mind when it comes to online dating:
- Use a more senior-friendly website: Connecting with a potential partner online might be easier if the site is geared toward older adults or has a higher concentration of seniors. OurTime is devoted exclusively to people over the age of 50. Match.com demographics reveal that almost 30% of clients are over the age of 50. Christian dating sites also have a large percentage of older members.
- Investigate before you meet: If you connect with someone online who sounds interesting, talk via email and telephone before you meet. Take some notes about what you learn about the person during your talks. Then take some time to search for them online. While you don’t want to be overly suspicious, dating sites are sometimes used by scammers as an avenue for meeting unsuspecting seniors.
- Meet in a public place: Once you feel confident the person is who they claim to be, arrange to meet in a very public place the first two or three times. Have a friend come along the first time, even if they only wait in another area of the restaurant or coffee shop. Be sure someone close to you always knows where you will be and when they should expect to hear from you after your meeting.
- Protect your financial information: This is another precaution that might seem unnecessary, but it’s always a good idea to secure personal information and belongings. Scammers are usually very adept at gaining trust and working their way in to people’s homes. When your back is turned or you are in the bathroom, they might rob you of valuable belongings or information that will help them steal your identity.
Make New Friends at Five Star
Residents of Five Star Senior Living communities often say one of the leading reasons they chose to move was the opportunity to socialize and meet new people. Seniors have the chance to be as active as they want to be in our communities.
We extend an open invitation for older adults and their families to visit a Five Star community and participate in any of our Lifestyle360 programs. Call the community nearest you to schedule a tour!