February is for many a month focused on love and relationships. For older people who have lost a spouse or partner after decades together, Valentine’s Day can be yet another marker of time and loss. Annabel James, the founder of Age Space and an expert on elderly care, looks at the importance of companionship in later life.
Annabel comments: “Finding yourself alone after decades with a beloved spouse or partner is such a cruel thing to happen. The prospect of happiness can feel distant, if not impossible. Finding companionship with old friends or new acquaintances to share mutual interests won’t make the loss go away, but personal connections and human bonds are fundamental to both our happiness and emotional wellbeing.”
Here are ways to find companionship in late life:
- Don’t underestimate the value of your social circle. Your friends and acquaintances could be the best resource you have for doing the things you love, and meeting new people, whether that be someone to share lunch with or enjoy a film together.
- Single supplement holidays need not be the end of trips away; there are many holiday companies providing a whole range of different options from escorted tours to cruises; think about planning a trip with a good friend who shares similar interests to you.
- Explore lunch clubs and social organisations like the WI and the University of the Third Age. This is a great way of making new acquaintances and exploring new opportunities.
- The benefits of singing are well-known, so how about joining a choir; joining a book club, a gardening group, or if it’s crafting you love, plenty of local groups providing chat and craft, or knitting and nattering, for example?
- Find a course and learn something new with like-minded individuals, learn something different and have fun. It can be daunting to consider joining a new group or a club, so perhaps join with a friend or a neighbour.
- Become a volunteer. Charity shops, museums, art galleries, the local hospital, and many more are good places to start. Any volunteering can help maintain confidence and self-esteem and a sense of fulfilment.
- Join an exercise class. Daily exercise is good for the soul and fitness levels, it can be the perfect opportunity to improve your overall fitness and mental well-being while getting you out and about meeting new people.
Frequent and meaningful engagement may increase your life span! It’s never too late to find love or companionship and having new opportunities to do so can make a big difference in our lives, the upside of living longer is living longer. Being in a loving relationship offers many benefits. Not only does it make us happier, but it can also reduce our stress levels and motivate us to take better care of our overall health.