We are social animals and part of are connectedness to others is knowing who we are, and what we have to contribute to the greater good.
Once you are retired, the odds are that you will have trouble finding an answer to the question: "Who are you?" This loss of status is harder for men than for women, and it has taken me years to find an answer that I am comfortable with and the answer I have know is I am an educator and I have always been a learner.
We are social beings and we need to keep connected to others and the quality and number of connections you have with others in your social circle including family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances, helps keep us healthy in retirement. Other terms used for this need are social support, social capital and social engagement. At a very basic level, being socially active brings enjoyment and meaning to your life.
Consequently, you experience an upswing in your overall quality of life and well-being. Part of the connection we have is how we define our role, and that means how we define ourselves. Who are you, or who you think you are plays an important role in determining how or if you will interact with others.
Although social connectedness plays a significant role in health, we as seniors or boomers are more likely than any other age group to feel lonely or isolated. This social isolation is defined as less social contact than someone wishes, causing loneliness or other emotional distress. In “normal” aging, a our social circle may grow smaller due to:
- Illness or disability
- Loss of spouse or friends – more than 6% of Canadians over the age of 65 reported not having any friends
- Caregiver responsibilities
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Exclusion from society due to laws or societal discrimination (e.g. mandatory retirement)
- Failure of society to provide for the needs of seniors (e.g. affordable housing)
- Denial of opportunities to contribute and participate actively in society (e.g. not being represented on a community planning committee)
- Economic exclusion (e.g. unequal or lack of access to resources)