I stopped looking for “my community” years ago, trying to fit in somewhere when one, I didn’t, and two, I really just wanted to be on my own most of the time. In the process of doing so, I started being true to myself. Me, for the first time ever.
And strangely enough, I inadvertently built a community that works for me. It’s small, scattered, and sometimes remote, but it gives me the opportunity to interact with others who share my goals and interests. It’s not one large group of women with a common purpose but several smaller ones with a variety of interests and hobbies and that works for me.
Maybe you already have your community? Maybe you find your people wherever you go. If so, you’re already taking steps toward healthy aging. If not, here are a few things you might think about.
Having a community, no matter how small, is important as we age because it provides us with a sense of connection and belonging. Sharing our experiences, values, and dreams with others in a similar stage of life can be comforting, educational and even inspiring. And it’s a key component to healthy aging.
A community provides space for people to connect with others who share similar experiences, struggles, and goals. This sense of belonging can provide emotional support and a sense of understanding during tough times and help you feel less alone with your struggles.
Our social interactions tend to decrease naturally as we age, leading to fewer opportunities for connecting with others. Social isolation has been linked to several negative health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
A community provides the opportunity for increasing social interaction, giving you a place to share experiences, wisdom, and insights with others. And to be on the receiving end as well.
Finding your people can be a powerful way to form meaningful relationships with others. By coming together around shared passions, you can connect with like-minded people who understand your dreams on a fundamental level. This makes it significantly easier to socialize, wherever your comfort level may be.
Whether it’s through shared activities or simply spending time together, being with friends can create a sense of fun and playfulness that can be hard to come by in other areas of life. This can help you feel more connected to others and can add a much-needed sense of lightheartedness to your life.
Being part of a group can open up a wealth of opportunities for personal growth – to learn new skills, try new activities, and explore new interests. Lifelong learning in this simple way can help keep the mind active and engaged and prevent or delay cognitive decline, which is especially important as we age.
There are many reasons to volunteer and numerous benefits for both you and your community. It can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and a reason to get outside on a regular basis as well. By giving your time and energy to a cause you care about, you can make a meaningful contribution to the world while also experiencing your own personal growth and development.
As part of a community, you may have easier access to the resources you need, such as healthcare providers, transportation services and educational opportunities. These resources can help in managing chronic illnesses, getting to medical appointments, and accessing other services that are important to your physical and emotional well-being.
Studies have shown that social isolation is correlated with decreased physical activity. Yet physical activity is important for maintaining health and preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Having a community can increase your choices and motivation for fitness possibilities.
Many communities offer fitness classes, sports leagues, and outdoor activities. Many provide opportunities to engage in physical activity, such as walking groups, dance classes, or gardening clubs. There seems to be a community for every interest and personality type these days.
Whether it’s through volunteer work, community initiatives, or simply being a good neighbor, everyone has the power to make a positive impact on the world. By being involved in community initiatives and activities you are contributing to something larger than yourself, which has a powerful effect on the way you perceive the world.
The odds of experiencing social isolation and loneliness increase as the years go by, which can lead to a range of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Being part of a community can help counteract these negative effects by providing social support, a sense of purpose, and opportunities for engagement and social interaction. This can be incredibly beneficial for our mental health.
Having a community as we age can have a significant positive impact on physical health in three major ways. One, you are likely to have better access to the resources you need. Two, you are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and other healthy habits. And three, you are less likely to experience the stress, anxiety or loneliness that can have a huge negative impact on physical health.
Simply stated, having a community you enjoy helps you form meaningful relationships with others who share similar interests and lifestyles. These relationships can provide emotional support, a source of laughter, and create a sense of purpose in life. By finding a community that works for you, you can connect with like-minded people who can help you navigate life’s challenges and celebrate its joys.
Finding a community that works for you is a great way to improve your social connections, quality of life, and overall well-being. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you will find your community when you stop looking for it.
When you start connecting with what brings you joy, you will naturally find others who appreciate the same thing. For those who have difficulty with or are less inclined to be social, finding a community that works for you is just as important and just as possible. A recent study found that adding even one person to your community had positive effects on functional, self-perceived and emotional health.
One approach is to start by identifying activities, sports or hobbies that you enjoy. This could include activities such as gardening, painting, photography or playing music. By identifying activities that you enjoy, you’re more likely to find a community of like-minded individuals who share the same interests. For example, if you enjoy playing music, you can attend shows, join a local music group or take lessons.
Another approach is to seek out online communities and social networks that cater specifically to whatever your interests are, providing a platform to connect with others and share interests on your own terms. Like Sixty and Me.
These online communities can be especially valuable for older adults who are unable to leave their homes due to mobility issues or other health challenges. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will let you have conversations at your own pace, and there are also online communities and discussion forums focused on a huge variety of interests and hobbies.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and learn more about yourself. For example, you can volunteer at a local school, library, or community center. You can also look for opportunities at local hospitals or nursing homes.
Many communities host events throughout the year, such as fairs, festivals, and concerts. Attend these events with an open and curious mind, which can be a great way to meet new people and learn more about the community.
Many communities have senior centers that offer a range of activities, classes, and events. These centers can be a great place to connect with others and participate in activities such as exercise classes, crafts, and educational seminars.
There is an enormous difference between loneliness and being alone. Many people, myself included, are quite happy being alone and while there’s nothing at all wrong with it, there’s still a need for community on some level.
Community can take many forms and can vary depending on your interests, needs, and preferences. Simply start with what interests you and spend some time with it. Make a point of learning and keeping an open mind to others who like it too. Everything, including you, grows from there.
How do you connect with people? Do you ever feel lonely? Do you like being alone but sometimes wish you had someone to share things with? What do you enjoy doing as a hobby or sport? What kind of community have you created for yourself?