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Retiring in Georgia: 5 ways to beat pandemic-related loneliness

Staying more socially isolated lessens your chance of contracting COVID-19, but it has some unintended consequences. More than half of people over age 50 who answered a poll earlier this year said they feel isolated from others, a figure that was double that of pre-pandemic levels. Their social contacts were also much less frequent than before.

This loneliness can greatly affect not only your mental health, but also your physical well-being. If you’re an older adult, social isolation can have the same effect on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to Sonja Rosen, chief of geriatric medicine at Cedars-Sinai.

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The following are five ways seniors can beat the loneliness of the pandemic while still taking the proper precautions:

Reach out via Zoom or phone call.

Even if you’re not seeing friends or family as much in person, you can still reach out to them via Zoom or phone calls. That’s what Katharine Esty, an 86-year-old who stays active, does, according to today.com. She meets with her book group and others via Zoom so she has a schedule to interact with others. In addition, she also volunteers to call people who are alone.

Have safe visits.

Social distancing doesn’t mean that you need to avoid all contact with people outside of your household. NYC.gov recommends going for a walk with a friend or family member while wearing a mask and staying six feet apart. You can also meet in an open space such as a park using the same precautions.

Connect with potential friends who share your interests.

Looking for social media groups that reflect your interests can help you expand your group of virtual friends. It’s a good way to connect with others and automatically gives you common ground to discuss, wusa9.com points out.

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Reconnect with old friends.

You probably have a large number of old friends that include former co-workers, neighbors and other people you’ve lost touch with over the years. In most cases, the lack of contact probably wasn’t intentional. It can be hard to keep in touch with everyone, particularly as circumstances change, so psychologytoday.com suggests reaching out to revive some of those old relationships.

Make connections through your current circle of friends.

Expand your social circle by asking your friends if they have friends they think you’d get along with, wusa9.com recommends. It’s the same idea that people often use to set up a date, but in this case, it’s a good way to find a platonic friend via a current buddy’s recommendation.

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