7 Fulfilling Ways for Seniors to Reconnect This Summer
It’s been just about a year and a half since the pandemic first reared its ugly head and began reshaping the “normal” we’d been accustomed to living. Now, with vaccine distribution in full swing, as well as declining numbers of severe illnesses from COVID, we’re seeing the beginnings of recovery from such a challenging time in our lives.
Not everything has returned to the way it used to be—and it might not ever do so completely, but it’s more important than ever to start focusing on the ways we can reconnect with one another after a long and difficult period of isolation. There may be some anxiety around the idea of re-entering society, but for seniors in particular, doing so is paramount to maximizing health, longevity and quality of life.
In the spirit of reconnection, the following are some vital ways seniors can start expanding their social touchpoints this summer—at whatever pace feels right for them—and engaging more with the people and community around them.
1. Nurture relationships amid the beauty of nature.
Some seniors feel the most comfortable starting to gather with others when doing so happens in an outdoor environment. Getting out in nature can be a fun and fantastic way to reacclimate to social activities. The opportunities for spending time together in the great outdoors are wide and varied. From simple walks and hiking trails to fishing trips, beach visits, bird-watching, or even just a shared meal on the verandah, consider how you or the senior in your life can leverage nature to spend quality time with friends and loved ones.
2. Transform food prep and mealtime into social activities.
Food shopping, meal prepping, cooking, baking, and eating don’t have to be solitary activities. In fact, they’re often much more enjoyable when shared with others. This summer, consider how you or the senior in your life can turn food-related activities into social engagements. Plan a trip to a farmers’ market with a friend, join a specialty cooking or baking club, or simply plan some lunch and dinner dates with people you enjoy. This is a fun way to spice up an everyday routine with the kind of socialization opportunities that have a positive impact on overall well-being.
3. Tap into your spiritual or religious network.
If religion or spirituality is an integral aspect of your life or that of your aging loved one, this is a great place to start rebuilding community ties. Attending in-person services, participating in a congregation’s organized activities, getting involved with an active religious senior group, lending personal talents to a ministry, or simply volunteering one’s time to a cause can be a fulfilling and meaningful way to socialize with members of the community. These are some of the most important human touchpoints that were lost over the past year—but ones that can and should certainly be regained as we reemerge from the isolation.
4. Plan a change of scenery.
For many seniors, the last year and a half has meant being cooped up at home, mostly isolated and staring at the same several walls. So consider assembling the people you feel most comfortable around—whether that means fully vaccinated, quarantined for a period of time, or taking adequate safety measures—and go somewhere you can all enjoy a change of scenery for a few days. Maybe it’s a cabin at the lake, a house near the beach, somewhere tropical, or a place with lots of sights to see. Plan according to your comfort level, but try to incorporate fresh perspectives and new experiences with friends.
5. Join an exercise group or class for physical activity.
The weather has warmed up again, and many of us need to get that blood and energy flowing after too much time spent locked up indoors by ourselves. Seniors can start pumping those endorphins with a form of physical activity that also involves a component of socialization. This might involve taking walks with friends around the community, joining an exercise group, or signing up for swimming. Consider organized exercise classes like yoga, senior aerobics, or other heart-pumping and strength-building options. Whatever one’s individual pleasure, regular physical activity paired with social opportunities makes for a healthier senior body, mind, and spirit.
6. Capitalize on common interests.
Let personal talents and interests lead the way toward social activities that can be shared with others. If you or the senior in your life share a pastime with one or more friends, start a club, or make a plan to meet regularly and focus on that area. If you don’t know anyone who shares that passion, check out some local classes and clubs that already exist for that activity. From crafting, sewing, and knitting to chess, music, bridge, books, gardening, photography, astronomy and so much more, there’s no limit to what can be done while connecting with other people in a social way.
7. Hit the education scene.
If academia is on the mind, think about participating in ongoing lectures or continuing education classes. This is an ideal way to maintain mental alertness and human engagement at the same time. Some senior living communities and local community centers provide these types of learning opportunities, and you can check out the offerings at nearby community colleges, where seniors are sometimes invited to audit classes at low or no cost to them. Whether you or your loved one is interested in learning more about computers, tackling a new language, discovering art history, or something different, there are lots of options for taking advantage of academic and cultural learning opportunities for seniors.
Ultimately, how you or the senior in your life choose to reconnect this summer isn’t nearly as important as ensuring that you make a concerted effort to get out of isolation and engage with other people. It’s been shown that the more a person interacts with others and develops social bonds, the healthier and happier they tend to be. In fact, that’s one of the major reasons why senior living communities are such attractive places to live. Essentially, they support the close relationships and valuable socialization that enable seniors to thrive.
To find out how United Methodist Homes provides a wealth of offerings and opportunities to support the health and wellbeing of our residents, contact us today or schedule a complimentary visit now. For additional tips on senior health and lifestyle issues, check out our blog.
About Elizabeth Bemis
In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.