From the desk of Lori Aufderhar, Summit’s Director of Operations/Retirement Coach:
I’ve met with many executives who are now retiring. They’ve worked so hard to make it to the top only to realize it’s lonely. They’ve not maintained friendships, and once retired are suddenly feeling the lack of good relationships in their life and feel alone.
The effect of loneliness and isolation is compared to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity and cigarette smoking.
Busy through the years with career demands and family, friendships fell to the wayside. Now with kids grown and gone, with parents and many older family members gone, who is left?
How do I now make friends at this age?
- One client began with attending a high school class reunion, followed by seeking out college friends, old neighbors, and former co-workers.
- Another was working on an ancestry project by contacting extended family
- Many have made new friends by joining fitness clubs, signing up for cooking classes, volunteering, meeting current neighbors, joining book clubs, support groups, Bible studies, or association boards.
It’s said that loneliness is the new smoking, and it is equally as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, which can take 8 years off normal life expectancy.
In the book Younger Next Year for Women authors Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD tell us there is a terrible temptation for all of us as we age to close up shop and narrow our lives.
“Well, don’t. It’s killing us. We have to “exercise” our social, pack-animal gifts as vigorously as we exercise our bodies. Nurturing and preserving the friends we have. They’re not all perfect, and we tend to get a little more judgmental and petulant when we get older. We’re tempted to say, the hell with so-and-so. Well, don’t – we can’t afford to lose a one. Get back on the phone. Call everyone. Use e-mail. Connect and commit. There’s a terrible temptation to say “no” to stuff as we get older. It’s a hassle to do this or that. We don’t really need to. Except of course, that we do. We need to do almost anything that gets us involved with other people.”
Say “yes” to things that build relationships and grow friendships. You won’t regret the investment!