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Ideas for Reducing Loneliness

How to meet new people when it’s difficult to get around

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For a variety of reasons, many people spend the majority of their time at home, isolated from social interaction and coping with loneliness. This includes seniors and stay-at-home parents, as well as people with debilitating injuries, diseases or disabilities. Loneliness can also affect caregivers.

Being homebound can be temporary. But for some people, staying at home all the time may be a permanent situation, which increases feelings of loneliness and depression.

Loneliness is Normal, But It Doesn’t Have to Be Permanent
Humans are social animals. We like having others around to talk to, even if we don’t always behave that way. Many communities offer programs that provide outreach to specific groups, like seniors. If you are interested in more social interaction to reduce your loneliness, here are some creative ways to reach outside your home, stay in touch with others, be involved with your community and even meet new people.

Take Advantage of the Internet to Reduce Loneliness
Early on, some people thought that the Internet could increase isolation, but new social opportunities have evolved that can help you reduce your feelings of loneliness without having to leave your home.

  • Enjoy one-on-one conversations through e-mail, instant messaging, and online phone calls combined with webcams. Pictures, short movies and live images can be shared easily, diminishing distances between family members and friends and reducing feelings of loneliness.
  • Internet chat rooms and social networking sites have been the source of many new friendships among people with common interests. You may know of couples who met through online senior dating sites.
  • Listservs, senior blogs and newsgroups are sources for interesting group conversations.
  • Internet games that involve others provide an opportunity for social interaction. Special websites are devoted to poker, hearts and bridge, and these sites can foster the types of common chit-chat that often occur when people sit around a table playing cards.

    You can easily play with people of all ages, from kids to seniors, as well as people from other countries using these specialty websites. And many online games that involve characters and intricate stories are fully accessible from a home computer.

  • Online seminars are available from colleges, museums and libraries. Take travel tours, learn about sculpture, or discuss poetry or history without ever having to leave your home. This has a double benefit -- you can reduce feelings of loneliness by meeting new classmates, and you’ll also get the benefits that lifelong learning provide. [For more information on lifelong learning, see The Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Older Adults.]

Andrea Tannenbaum is the president of Dynamic-Living.com.

Want more ideas? See page 2: Beat loneliness by working or volunteering from home

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