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5 Ways To Avoid Loneliness In Retirement

04/06/2015 06:18 am ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015

Retirement can be a challenging time, especially when you live far away from your family. Many people also struggle with finding new friends once they leave the jobs that have given their lives meaning for decades.

The good news is that we don't have to accept loneliness in retirement! There are many ways that we can reinvent our lives, while making a difference in the lives of others.

Here are a few specific things that you can do to avoid loneliness in retirement.

Make an Effort to Connect with People

Research shows that maintaining social connections is a critical part of healthy aging. In fact, maintaining friendships and family ties may help to reduce the risk of dementia and other age-related illnesses.

Use online tools like Boomerly to meet people who share your interests. Do a quick Google search for clubs or groups in your area that are focused on your passions. Consider taking an evening class. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education classes or allow people to audit classes.

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Search for the Meaning of (Your) Life

What do you stand for? This is an important question, not only for your mind, but, also for your body. In fact, research shows that having a sense of purpose can add years to your life.

Just because you're retired doesn't mean you're "finished." People over 60 still have many dreams to pursue, contributions to offer and gifts to share! What do you want to share with the world?

Spend some time journaling and thinking about what you want to do in the next stage of your life.

Consider meeting with a counselor or life coach who can help you visualize your future.

Ask yourself what you want the next phase of your life to be about. Do you want to travel, write, create, teach, start a business, volunteer or just have more fun? Or, do you perhaps want to focus on spending more time with your grandkids? The choice is yours to make.

Whatever you want to focus on, write down your goals and pursue them vigorously. Don't let life happen to you. Always remember that life after 60 can be whatever you want it to be.

Force Yourself to Embrace Change

If there's one thing that people over 60 have learned, it's that change is a constant. The good news is that it's never too late to start over and present a fresh vision of yourself to the world. For example, I recently embarked on a personal "reinvention" project of my own, serving as "model" for a series of free video tutorials on makeup for older women.

Getting a public makeover was definitely out of me "comfort zone." At the same time, I found it quite exhilarating!

When you open your mind to change, you subconsciously attract new people, places and experiences into your life.

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Give Back Through Volunteering and Charity Work

Loneliness in retirement often stems from a sense of detachment from the world. When we feel like we are not contributing, we have a tendency to shut ourselves away. This in turn makes us lonelier. It's a viscous cycle that only we can break.

One way to avoid loneliness is to share your gifts with other people. Whether you choose to volunteer at your church or support a local charity, there are a limitless number of ways to give back to the world - and the more you give back, the better you will feel.

You can even volunteer without leaving your house! For example, I just read about a project that pairs Brazilian kids who want to learn English with English-speaking retirees. The participants then engage in conversations via Skype. The Brazilian kids get to practice their English and the older Americans get to make new friends and serve as tutors and mentors. It's a perfect match!

This is a great example of how technology, which is often accused of pulling us apart, can bring us together. Speaking of technology, you can use Volunteer Match to find a volunteer opportunity in your town or city. There are no excuses when it comes to getting involved.

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Consider Getting a Roommate

Many people over 60 love to live alone. At the same time, there are many of us who would love to have a roommate to share our daily experiences with. As more baby boomers start to reach retirement age, there is a growing demand for innovative shared housing solutions. For example, the Golden Girls Network is an online service that helps older women to find housemates.

Loneliness in retirement is a serious issue that affects millions of people across the world. The good news is that there are plenty of things that we can do to fight back.

So, let's make a commitment to reaching out and building relationships. Let's use websites like Boomerly to build meaningful friendships. Let's look for volunteer opportunities. Most of all, let's remember to love ourselves. Each of us is special in our own way and we all deserve to be happy.

Do you ever feel lonely? What advice would you offer to someone who is dealing with loneliness? Please join the conversation and "like" and share this article to keep the discussion going.

Here are a few more Boomerly articles to inspire you to get more from life after 50:

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

10 Worst Places To Retire