Preventing Loneliness in Retirement

Monday, August 10, 2020

Preventing Loneliness in Retirement

Long before we had the Coronavirus pandemic, the media was filled with reports of the loneliness epidemic sweeping the globe.

According to the Australian Loneliness Report released in 2018:

  • 1 in 4 adults were experiencing an episode of loneliness at the time of the survey;
  • while 1 in 2 (51%) felt lonely at least one day each week.

These statistics are likely to be far higher after the outbreak of Covid-19 and associated restrictions. In fact, recent research by the DCM Institute here in Australia shows that loneliness has increased from 2% to 27% in people of retirement age, since the start of the pandemic.

What is Loneliness?

While most of us don’t mind spending some time on our own, and even enjoy periods of solitude, the state of being alone is very different to feelings of loneliness.

Human beings are social creatures, and loneliness is a signal that we need more fulfilling or deeper relationships with others. Just like hunger causes physical discomfort to drive us to find food, loneliness is an emotional pain, designed to motivate us to seek meaningful social connections.

What Causes Loneliness in Retirement

There are certain times in our lives when we are more likely to experience loneliness. For example:

  • if we have been so caught up with work, family or caring duties, that other relationships have fallen by the wayside;
  • following a marriage breakup, or the loss of our partner;
  • after leaving a job, or the workforce altogether (ie retirement);
  • if we have developed a health condition.

With one in four over-65s living alone — and quite possibly experiencing any one or more of the above life events – it is easy to understand how loneliness in retirement can develop.

Loneliness is Bad for your Health

While the lack of a social network or close companionship may cause pain on an emotional level, studies show that loneliness can also negatively impact our mental and physical health, increasing our risk of:

  • high blood pressure;
  • depression;
  • problems with sleeping;
  • reduced immunity;
  • obesity;
  • dementia;
  • anxiety;
  • and the list goes on.

Ongoing feelings of loneliness need to be taken seriously; they are a sign that something needs to change.

How to Prevent Loneliness in Retirement

Here are some ideas – both big and small - to help you prevent and overcome loneliness in retirement:

  • Face the world with a smile – and watch how the world starts smiling back!
  • Prioritise your existing friendships and social networks.
  • Consider relocating to be closer to friends or family.
  • Pets provide companionship, and help us connect with others. It’s almost impossible to take a dog for a walk and not have a conversation with others passing by!
  • Discover the joy of giving. How could you give your time to benefit others? Is there a group you could volunteer with, that aligns with your interests?
  • Most importantly - don’t give up; get out and get involved!

One of the many benefits of moving into a retirement village is the opportunity to meet and connect with others of a similar age and background.

At Ormiston Rise, we believe that planning for and supporting community is as important as the design and maintenance of the physical facilities. That’s why we have provided a community centre from the very earliest stages of our development, a place where residents can pick up a good book, join structured activities such as Scrabble or billiards, or simply swap stories over a beverage.

In this age of Coronavirus, we think that a move to our caring and friendly community like ours is the perfect prescription for preventing loneliness in retirement! Come and see for yourself – our display villas are open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, or call 3821 0971 to arrange a private inspection at a time to suit you.


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