As people continue to stay close to home and avoid crowded spaces, more than half (56%) of those 50 and older report they sometimes or often feel isolated from others, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging. Also, 46% say they infrequently interact with friends, neighbors or family outside their household – only once a week or less.
Both stats are double what that age group reported during the last poll in 2018.
“Sometimes, it can feel like a balancing act between loneliness and good health,” said xxx. “But good mental health also depends on meaningful connections with other people. We know that stress, depression and anxiety has surged during COVID-19, so it’s important for us all to take back our sense of community.” Here’s how:
Head outdoors. Maybe you used to gather with friends at the corner coffeeshop or over a meal at a restaurant. Why not think creatively and change it up? Order those lattes to go, for example, and enjoy a walk together while you all sip your brews. Or, host a socially distant potluck dinner in your backyard. Bonus: You’ll enjoy the benefits of fresh air and exercise, both mood-boosters.
Embrace both new and old technology. The good news? More adults over 60 say they are using email and text messages and spending time on a computer or a tablet, and 2/3 say they are using more social media than they have in the past. Here’s the key: to actually and safely connect with other people online, not just scroll or passively watch. And, it might feel old-fashioned, but one of the simplest things people can do is pick up the phone, since hearing a loved one’s voice can create a powerful connection.
Do one thing every day. If you’re finding it hard to cope with the stress of COVID-19—or even if you aren’t—make a point of caring for yourself in some small way every day. That could mean taking a break to enjoy a hobby; joining a weekly online book club; running a bubble bath; playing your favorite music during dinner; cooking a fresh new recipe; or inviting a friend to explore a place you’ve always wanted to go. Whatever it is, doing that one small thing can help you feel stronger and more positive—COVID or not.