Communities that Sustain Us

One concern that people express is that as they age they may become isolated from the world. When spouses die and families are far away, this is a real concern. We all know people who have lost their love for life because they are alone. It takes effort to reach out to make social connections but without it, our mental and emotional well-being will certainly diminish.

It appears to me that people who are engaged in a variety of groups when their health is good are more likely to remain engaged as they age. One 91 year-old friend has played bridge when her friends ever since she retired. She continues playing bridge to this day! In spite a waning health, her engagement with family, friends and church continue to stimulate her, bringing joy to her and to her companions.

For those of us who are elders-in-training, it is useful to think about the social groups that energize us and meet our various needs. Cultivating a variety of communities and friendships now is one way to prevent the tragedy of isolation. Investing in friendships, participating in volunteer group activities, joining clubs or interest groups, participating in church activities, book groups are just a few ways to maintain a social networks. These will support us as we face the challenges of aging.