Newly widowed adults can struggle to get back into a healthy socially interactive lifestyle. A 2002 study published by The Gerontological Society of America found that “maintaining continuity in the realm of social participation is a strategy older adults use to cope with spousal loss; however, not all widowed persons have the same resources to alter their levels of social participation.”
Sometimes financial resources can be a deterrent, but also coping with the poor health and ultimately the loss of a spouse can cause an individual to withdraw from friends and family, their community, and networks. Reconnecting after the loved one passes may be easy for some but not all. If you are attempting to help a parent or loved one find ways to re-engage in their community, the following are some ideas that might help to get the ball rolling.
- Travel – invite your loved one to take a trip with you. One misconception is that travel has to be far and wide- this is not true at all! Many people spend their whole lives never exploring what their own home state or region has to offer. Start with your local tourism office and plan day or weekend trips that are much easier to manage with limited means and/or physical limitations.
- Health & Fitness – Your loved one could join a gym, but if this is not within their comfort zone or financial means there are many ways to get fit and healthy without joining a gym as well. Exploring the local landscape through hiking, biking, or outdoor yoga are a few options.
- Joining a social organization – There are a number of options out there including AARP, Red Hat Society, Churches, local social and political groups such as Lion’s Club. You can also use Meetup.com and local Facebook groups to find free social groups and events in your area.
- Senior Center – The local senior center offers a number of events and activities.
- Art/Theatre/Music/Photography – Many widows report that exploring their creative side is both exciting and therapeutic. While getting involved in the Arts can sometimes be pricey, there are a number of ways to explore creativity without breaking the bank.
- Gardening or Cooking – Community classes are often offered in a variety of settings.
- Quilting groups – Quilting is a fun activity that can be enjoyed alone or in a social setting.
- Adopt a pet – Welcoming a furry friend into the home may be just the ticket to lifting your loved one’s spirits and giving them renewed purpose. If the commitment of adoption is daunting however, fostering is also an option. There is even a non-profit group Paws for Seniors that aids in the placement of orphaned “senior” pets who need good homes.
- Volunteering/mentoring – This is a great, free way to get involved and give back to your community. If you aren’t sure what capacity you want to volunteer in or where to start, a good place to start is to consider what you are most passionate about and what individual talents you have to offer. Then you can find volunteer organizations that best match your skillset.
- Start a blog – Blogging can be a great creative outlet and can allow a senior to share the wealth of experience and knowledge they have gained throughout their lifetime.
For some, the engagement of a Caregiver can be vital to helping them get out of the house and re-engaged in social activities. For more information on hiring a qualified Care Professional to assist in this process, call Allegiance Aging Care Services at 703-539-6029. You can also download our Guide to Successful Aging in Place on our website.