Older and Wiser

How to Build a Community that Supports You – Even When You Live Alone

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The older we get, the more likely it becomes that we will live alone. Some people may experience the death of a spouse; others lose friends to illness or friends move to assisted living communities. Some friends may move across the country to be closer to family.

Whatever the reason, 58% of American women aged 60 to 69 and 42% of American men in the same age range live alone, according to the Office for National Statistics (based in England). Twenty seven percent of people aged 70 to 74 live alone, though figures on gender are not available. How do you build a support system if no family or friends are nearby?

In previous centuries, people lived in communities for most of their lives and built strong relationships. Today’s communities are more fluid and more people come and go much more rapidly. On the other hand, community centers, houses of worship and adult education or adult day centers can offer multiple opportunities for social interaction. That’s the good news!

Discussion groups, choirs, theater companies and art classes can also offer new possibilities for enjoyment and meeting people who can then become part of a strong support network. Volunteering at a local business or hospital can also help you create new friendships. You may even want to think about getting involved a political campaign.

The main thing to remember is that you want to build a network of neighbors and like-minded friends who can cheer you on when things are going well and offer help if and when help is needed. Care communities like Cassia can also help, as we offer adult day services that help people make authentic connections with others. Those connections might focus on performing in a choir, creating art, and enjoying physical activities.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t be discouraged if your first efforts don’t work out the way you planned. It can take time to find your passion and the right friends to share it with you. As long as you keep trying, your support system can only grow.

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Decisions about moving or caring for a loved one can be difficult to navigate. At Cassia, (formerly Augustana Care and Elim Care), we are here to help. To learn more, please visit www.cassialife.org or contact us directly at communication@cassialife.org.