Humans are social creatures. Even the most introverted among us are bound to have a few close friends and loved ones. It’s therefore no surprise that as you enter retirement, maintaining strong relationships will prove critical for achieving ongoing happiness and fulfillment.
Here are just some of the ways in which strong relationships are important for those in retirement
Staying Out of Trouble
If you’ve worked hard your entire adult life and are fortunate enough to reach retirement, the one thing you may not be prepared for is the abundance of free time at your disposal. While it may seem like a dream come true at first, someone with more time than they know what to do with can easily find themselves getting into trouble, often at the expense of their health. Maintaining strong relationships with friends and loved ones helps to keep you occupied in retirement, and less likely to engage in bad behaviors.
Take substance abuse for example. Professionals working with older patients in outpatient rehab in San Diego and other cities with growing rates of addiction among the elderly note the outcomes are much more likely to be positive if the individual is going home to live with a spouse or family member versus living alone. In fact seniors who live alone and/or who aren’t maintaining strong relationships are probably more likely to develop a substance abuse problem in the first place.
Feeling Wanted and Needed
People want to feel valued, that their existence means something, and this sentiment only grows stronger as we grow older. However, as our kids grow up, our careers wind down, and our looks begin to fade, we find ourselves seemingly wanted and needed less than before. This can contribute to depression and other mood disorders developed in our retirement years.
Maintaining strong relationships where we are wanted and needed doesn’t have to necessarily include other people; owning a pet provides a similar outlet for fulfilling our sense of purpose. In fact in cases where an animal requires special attention, such as daily medication for preventing dog seizures, the bond between owner and pet can become especially strong.
Retirement age is a time when we begin to slow down both mentally and physically. In some ways this is a welcome change, especially for those coming off of demanding careers, but it can also prove detrimental to your health. Without ongoing activity, your muscles will atrophy while bones and joints will become more prone to injury. Similarly, a mind which is not routinely exposed to new ideas and new experiences will lose its sharpness.
It’s imperative for those in retirement to maintain strong relationships in order to achieve a healthy level of physical and mental activity. Meeting up with friends for a weekly night of bowling, joining them for a morning cup of coffee, and similar social activities will keep you on your feet and more importantly, able to think on your feet as you grow older.
Whether we realize it or not, anyone who has lived to see six or more decades is a rich source of knowledge and wisdom. This is achieved by virtue of experience.
However, all that knowledge and wisdom is lost if a person is unable to pass it onto others. No one lives forever, at least not yet, and it’s therefore important to maintain strong relationships in order to ensure you’re able to teach important life lessons to grandkids and others which have an influence even after you’re gone.
Retirement is a time when we’re allowed to take it easy and go do the things we always wanted but never had the time to get done. But it’s also a time to strengthen the relationships you already have, as well as build new ones wherever and whenever possible. Doing so not only improves your quality of life, it makes it a life worth living for many years to come.