Social isolation has serious risks for older adults. Individuals who have minimal contact with friends or family members are at higher risk of illness and death, and they experience higher health care costs than seniors who engage with others often.

The Villa at San Mateo and other organizations offer a variety of activities to help older adults avoid isolation. However, if you consider yourself to be an introvert, you may not enjoy the same types of social gatherings and group activities that many older adults frequent.

What are some activities that will allow you to avoid isolation while respecting your need for solitude?

Books, Art and Movies

If you’re not a “joiner” but would like some interaction with others, consider becoming part of a book club. Book clubs typically meet infrequently — often once a month. If you want to explore your creative side, participate in a weekly art class or other creative outlet. Or, invite a friend to a movie at a local theater, and then take time for coffee or a meal afterwards to discuss the experience.

Day Trips and Tours

If group travel is not your cup of tea, you may enjoy shorter outings with small groups. Consider visiting a local attraction with a few friends, or take a day trip to a nearby city. Short walking or bus tours that don’t involve overnight stays also are an option for those who crave limited interactions with others. Oftentimes organizations like the Sierra Club have guided, small group hikes, so think about connecting with an organization that is involved in an area you are interested in.

Exercise Classes and Sports

If you generally exercise on your own, try group classes for stretching and toning, yoga, tai chi and meditation. Alternatively, you might enjoy brief group hikes or cycling outings in natural areas. By joining a class or workout group, you can stay fit and get as social — or not — as you like.

Volunteer Opportunities

Nearly every charitable organization has a web presence these days, and many need online-only volunteers. If you enjoy writing or photography, look for a volunteer position that allows you to interact primarily online. Organizations like Zooniverse allow you to volunteer online on a project basis. Alternatively, you may find volunteer opportunities that are in person but dovetail with your skills, interests and level of engagement with people.

Connecting with Special People

Most introverts find their energy sapped by large events, but they enjoy interacting one-on-one or spending time with small groups of friends and family members. To avoid isolation, be intentional about spending time with the important people in your life on a regular basis. Setting an ongoing date for lunch, dinner, coffee or just a phone call ensures that you keep in touch and stay connected.

If you’re put off by bustling social activities that involve large groups, there’s no need to become isolated or feel left out. With a little research, you can find activities that allow you to interact with others — in small doses — without feeling overwhelmed.

Source: The Villa at San Mateo