If you don’t want to feel lonely in old age, start practicing these 7 simple habits now

Eliza Hartley by Eliza Hartley | March 27, 2024, 1:14 pm

We all age, but the quality of our golden years is often determined by the habits we cultivate throughout our lives.

How do you ensure that your later years are filled with companionship and fulfillment, rather than solitude and regret?

After observing the lives of many elderly people around me, and studying the habits of those who seem to enjoy a rich social life even in their twilight years, I’ve identified 7 simple practices that appear to make all the difference. If you’re open to cultivating these habits now, you may just find that your old age is something to look forward to, not dread.

1) Embrace lifelong learning

We often associate learning with our school or college years, but the truth is, learning should be a lifelong pursuit.

Embracing learning in all its forms not only keeps your mind sharp, but also provides you with endless opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. Whether it’s joining a book club, attending workshops, or simply picking up a new hobby, the act of learning can serve as a bridge to meaningful relationships.

As we grow older, the world around us continues to change and evolve. By staying curious and open to new ideas, we ensure that we’re never left behind. This openness also makes us more interesting companions, attracting people towards us.

In short, lifelong learning could be your passport to an engaged and fulfilling old age. So why not pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, or sign up for that course you’ve been eyeing? 

2) Practice being alone

There’s a profound difference between being alone and feeling lonely. The former is a physical state, the latter an emotional one. You can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely, or be alone and feel perfectly content.

As life and wellness coach Dennis Buttimer suggests, embracing stillness provides an opportunity for enhanced clarity. Through this clarity, one can make better choices that ultimately contribute to a more satisfying and fulfilling life. “I’ve had people tell me that after cultivating time of quiet and stillness, some things that used to upset them don’t bother them anymore,” says Buttimer.

Moreover, people who are comfortable being alone are often more resilient against feelings of loneliness. They have learned to find joy and fulfillment within themselves, so they don’t depend solely on others for their happiness.

3) Nurture your relationships

While it’s important to enjoy your own company, humans are inherently social creatures. We thrive on connection and companionship.

It’s easy to let our relationships slide in the fast pace of life. We forget to call, skip social gatherings, or simply fail to invest the time and effort required to maintain strong bonds. However, these relationships could prove to be your primary support system in old age.

Nurturing your relationships means actively participating in them. It’s about checking in on your loved ones, lending a listening ear, showing up when you’re needed, and being present in the moments you share.

Small consistent efforts can go a long way in strengthening your social bonds. Regular phone calls, catching up over a cup of coffee, or even sending a thoughtful message can remind people that you care.

4) Stay physically active

Here’s an interesting fact: regular physical activity can not only keep your body in shape, but it can also have a positive impact on your social life.

Engaging in regular exercise or joining a fitness group can open up opportunities to meet new people. Shared physical activities, whether it’s a daily walk in the park, a yoga class, or a cycling group, often lead to shared conversations, shared experiences, and eventually, shared friendships.

Moreover, maintaining physical health helps ensure that you are capable of socializing when you reach old age. Good health often translates into increased energy and vitality, making it easier to engage with others.

5) Allow yourself to be vulnerable

Let’s be honest, opening up to others can be scary. Vulnerability often feels like giving someone the power to hurt us. But it’s also the gateway to deeper, more meaningful connections.

People connect with authenticity. They’re drawn to those who are real, who aren’t afraid to share their joys and sorrows, victories and failures. When you open up, you give others the opportunity to understand you better, to empathize with you, and ultimately, to connect with you on a deeper level.

In old age, when superficial socializing takes a backseat, these deep connections become all the more important. They provide comfort, companionship, and a sense of belonging.

6) Limit your screen time

In today’s digital world, this might seem like an odd advice. After all, isn’t technology supposed to connect us?

While it’s true that technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family across the globe, it’s also made it incredibly easy to retreat into our own little digital worlds. We’ve all seen groups of friends sitting together, yet engrossed in their own phones, or couples on dates, paying more attention to their screens than to each other.

The truth is, real connections happen in the physical world. They require eye contact, physical presence, shared experiences. And these are things that no amount of screen time can replicate.

7) Cultivate gratitude

Gratitude is powerful. It can transform your perspective, uplift your mood, and even make you more likable.

When we express gratitude, we focus on the positive aspects of our lives. We appreciate the people around us and acknowledge the roles they play in our happiness. This positive outlook not only makes us feel better about our own lives, but also makes us more pleasant to be around.

People are naturally drawn to positivity. They enjoy the company of those who appreciate them and see the good in the world. By cultivating gratitude, you can become that person.

Understanding loneliness in old age

As we grow older, several factors can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Retirement can lead to a loss of daily social interactions. The death of friends and loved ones can leave gaping holes in our social network. Physical health issues can limit our ability to get out and socialize.

While we cannot control all these factors, we can control our response to them. And this is where the habits we’ve discussed come into play.

By cultivating these habits now, we can equip ourselves with the tools necessary to combat loneliness in old age.