power your advice

The Big Differences Between Seniors Who Thrive and Struggle

It's no secret that I run a Facebook group for people growing older at home. It's geared to the individuals having little to rare support from a family member. Some feel lonely while others do not.

In this group, there are stories of loneliness, physical pain, emotional hardships, and the flip side of adversity, like traveling the world, retiring to another country, finding a more challenging job, while others go back to school for a second or third degree. It's fun to read the stories and observe how some move out of tough circumstances.

There are big differences between those who thrive and those who struggle. The people who thrive are active, resourceful, and curious. Growing older isn't a road block, but instead a new phase of advancement and here's what they do differently:

  • Play games or solve crossword puzzles, and tackle brain exercises
  • Volunteer to make a difference
  • Learn a new hobby or skill
  • Travel and meet people of different cultures
  • Grow a vegetable or flower garden
  • Work part-time to get out of the house
  • Make friends to build a support team
  • Attend classes at the library, senior center or community college
  • Help a neighbor next door
  • Take cooking classes
  • Related: 8 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday Alone

    The one gold standard that sets thriving and struggling apart is actively making local connections. Quite simply, one must get up and get going -- and that means get out of the house and start real-life conversations. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Attend meetings and activities at senior centers, you may not create close connections immediately but don't give up. Go back regularly and as you form new friendships, ask them to lunch and to bring a friend next. Over a few months you'll enjoy meeting more new friends and seeing the lunch group grow.
  • Do hobbies and other activities together in addition to lunches. Find local Meetup groups that offer other interests like writing, dancing, hobbies, cooking, walking, and classes to learn technology skills.
  • Libraries are another wonderful resource to build friendships. The Dallas public library offers free painting classes, exercise and yoga, and book clubs and lots more, so check out your local library.
  • Volunteer - Check with your local Area Agency on Aging Department to find ways to help the frail and elderly. Other organizations like AARP, the Senior Corp, and Points of Light will steer you to people or pets who have needs.
  • If you're open to meeting new people and I hope you are, then pick up the phone or go to the web to locate the organizations online. If you stay at it and make a reasonable effort, I bet you'll wind up having a lot of fun and adventure with new friends.