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Lifestyle & General Interest

Ideas To Help Older Adults Stay Social


Activity can have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of older adults. The CDC says that many adults over 50 are "socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk."

Social isolation can lead to unhealthy habits, such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, and overeating. The CDC also claims that loneliness increases the risk of dementia and mental health problems like depression.

On the other hand, both physical and social activities can create positive effects beyond reducing the feeling of isolation. Socializing, building healthy relationships, and participating in the wider community help everyone, including older adults, feel valued and have a purpose. Such engagement can also help memory and cognitive functions. Meanwhile, exercise can aid heart health and reduce the risk of health problems associated with being overweight.

These benefits are most pronounced when the activities are a part of everyday life. The challenge for older people and their loved ones is to create an active lifestyle, and there are plenty of different options for both social and physical activities. Because of the increase in virtual options, it is possible to remain active and connected regardless of location.

Here is a look at the different ways older adults can remain active.

Take an Education Course

Adult education or continuing education courses bring both cognitive and social benefits. These opportunities are widely available at community centers, libraries, and local colleges. In addition to learning new skills and staying mentally active, older adults will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful social interactions with their peers or students in other age groups.

Those with ambitions to take their educational activities a step further may even gain accreditation or certification to start a new career or qualify for volunteer or mentorship positions. These opportunities can serve as ongoing activities when their studies end.

Finally, courses will allow older adults to remain engaged with the world around them. They can gain insight into current trends and ways of thinking and feel more engaged in society instead of feeling that the world is passing them by.

Join a Sports League

Sports can bring both physical and mental health benefits to everyone, including older adults. In addition to the physical benefits of playing a sport, older adults have opportunities to engage socially with peers. Since leagues or teams often involve the same individuals, this type of activity also fosters a sense of community belonging, and opportunities to socialize with teammates or competitors outside of the league.

Because of the structured nature of sports leagues and teams, it’s easy to make a sport a regular part of the weekly schedule. Examples of organized sports for older adults include pickleball, golf, tennis, bowling, or lawn games. Some games are adapted for older players and rely on specialized equipment to increase accessibility.

Local community or senior centers often offer organized leagues, and some city or county sports organizations have teams for specific age groups, including older individuals.

Go to the Gym

With a gym membership, people can engage in solo or group exercises. As with other activities that occur outside the home, fitness classes also bring the opportunity for social connections.

Exercise classes offered to older adults include tai chi, yoga, balance, flexibility, and water-based fitness. Those who prefer working out alone can use strength training machines, stationary bikes, treadmills, or other equipment offering low-impact exercise. These machines can often help older adults with limited mobility improve their fitness. In four-season climates, older folks can use indoor walking tracks to stay active during the winter by walking and jogging.

In addition, a fitness club may also offer social activities such as game nights, art classes, and movie nights that allow older people to socialize with other members of the community.

Find an Online Community

Online communities for older adults have become prevalent in recent years because they offer an accessible way to socialize and meet like-minded people regardless of location and mobility issues.

Many of these groups revolve around a specific activity, hobby, or sport. For example, an online group could focus on card or board games, crafts, gardening, golf, reading, or cooking. Some may be more general and serve as a community where people can connect and talk about whatever topics interest them.

In addition to traditional social media platforms and message boards, older individuals can also find specialized websites and apps. Examples of these sites include the Seniors section of Meetup, Senior Planet, and thirdAGE.

Keep Up With Social Media

Social media is one of the most convenient ways for adults to stay connected with family and friends. Though it is not a perfect substitute for face-to-face interactions, it can offer the chance to connect with loved ones daily through photos and text.

The biggest advantage of social media is that it allows older adults to keep up with family members' lives and feel connected and less isolated. At the same time, be wary of social media's negative issues, such as hacking, cyber-bullying, misinformation, or inadvertently sharing private details.

Older adults or their family members should ensure proper privacy settings and safety practices to avoid these downsides.

Host Virtual Game Nights

Older individuals can stay socially active by hosting virtual game nights with their family and friends. For example, a group could have a virtual trivia night where participants answer quiz questions on an online platform or via a Zoom video conference.

Video conferencing and streaming technology make other types of virtual events possible. Virtual cocktail hours or book clubs can help people socialize regardless of location. It is even possible to host cooking or craft classes.

The attraction of virtual game nights is that they can work with any group. Older adults can create an event for their peers or use the same idea to engage with family members from different age groups. Beloved games like Trivial Pursuit or Bingo will appeal to people of all ages, and online platforms make it possible to play well-known games like Uno, backgammon, or chess with others online. The addition of video feeds can enhance the level of social interaction.

Join an Outdoors Club

Outdoor activities bring a wide range of benefits. Studies show that people who spend more time outdoors score better on physical, cognitive, and mental health assessments. Group activities, whether gardening, birdwatching, or hiking, allow older adults to connect socially, as well.

Another positive aspect of outdoor groups for older individuals is that members can engage with people with similar physical abilities or limitations. Because they are non-competitive, outdoor activities may appeal to people with more-relaxed personality types.

Older adults who want to engage in these activities should be sure to plan for any mobility issues they may encounter. For example, car lifts make it possible for people in motorized chairs to take their equipment to outdoor areas.

Look Into Group Travel

In addition to the obvious social benefits, group travel allows older adults to visit destinations with people interested in the same activities and who have similar limitations. On group trips, participants won't have to worry about being faced with activities beyond their physical abilities.

Trip ideas for older adults include a tour of a city's museums or a state's historic sites. Wine region tours, small-town Main Streets, or antique tours are other possibilities.

An interesting itinerary is important, but planners should also pay attention to the accessibility of the sites, which is essential for those traveling with wheelchairs or mobility limitations.

It is also vital to find guides and travel service providers with experience working with older travelers. They will understand how to pace the trip and provide the correct types of support for their clients.


Volunteering can help anyone feel like they are contributing to their community in a meaningful way. By providing support, sharing wisdom or knowledge, or teaching others, older individuals can build their own sense of self-worth.

Volunteering also provides a chance to engage socially and build relationships with others. There are many opportunities, including mentoring or tutoring, serving in a soup kitchen or community food shelf, or caring for homeless animals. This allows older adults to participate on a daily or weekly basis.

With planning, older adults can fill their schedules and stay mentally and physically active and maintain a vibrant social life as they age.

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