Retirement is the time in a person’s life that usually comes after a career. There are plenty of statistics that tell us the average age a person retires and the average income they’ll earn from social security, 401K and other sources. But there is more to retirement than the numerical data; the importance of staying social with friends and family.

Maintaining Friends in Retirement

When a person retires, they may go from working full time to suddenly having a lot of free time. While the idea of doing nothing all day may sound appealing, studies show this can result in loneliness and have a negative effect on one’s health and well-being. One Forbes article even linked loneliness to an increased risk of depression, less exercise and poor hygiene. This can happen especially if a retiree has lost their spouse.

Relationships with friends and family can help prevent loneliness, giving one a connection to the world and a sense of purpose. There are ways to maintain friendships and even make new friends after retiring. As I only recently turned 25, I’m still decades away from retirement, but I recall hearing about the experiences of my grandparents and other retirees.

One way to stay social is finding activities to do with fellow retirees. Chances are that you’ll have friends who are also retired and looking for ways to fill up their free time. Ideas include a planning a weekly lunch or dinner, visiting local places like museums or starting a group such as a book club. Activities like these give you something to look forward to and a topic of conversation among friends. It can also help with keeping up physical activity, another important part of one’s health.

There are opportunities to meet new people as well. Look for social activities that relate to your hobbies or interests. My late grandfather’s hobbies included golf and poker, and he would play both socially almost every week at local places. Through this, he met new people his age with similar interests, and even discovered he had mutual friends with some of them. Volunteering is another option to help meet new people from your community.

Staying social isn’t limited to friends though, there’s family as well. If you live close to them, spending time together can be valuable and rewarding. I remember spending afternoons at my grandparents playing board games and listening to stories about their experiences growing up. We learned a lot about their generation, and in turn, they learned what it was like to grow up in the 21st century.

If you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews, see if they have school functions you can attend. I remember my grandparents coming to our school concerts, open houses, sports games and other events. Not only was it a chance for us to spend time together, they had the chance to socialize with new people.

If your family lives far away, phone calls can serve as a form of communication. Pew Research studies indicate that more senior citizens are getting smartphones, accessing the Internet and even making social media profiles. Socializing in that way might be different than what it was 50 years ago, but is still a way to keep in touch with the multiple generations.

Retiring does not mean having to cut off contact with the outside world. By maintaining friendships through social activities and family relationships, one can make the most of the retirement years.