Newly widowed adults can struggle to get back into a healthy socially interactive lifestyle. Indeed, widows often have a hard time of it.
A 2002 study published by The Gerontological Society of America found that “maintaining continuity in the realm of social participation is a strategy older adults use to cope with spousal loss. However, not all widowed persons have the same resources to alter their levels of social participation.”
Sometimes financial resources can be a deterrent. Coping with the poor health and ultimately the loss of a spouse can cause an individual to withdraw from friends and family, their community, and networks.
Reconnecting after the loved one passes may be easy for some but not all.
You can help a parent or loved one find ways to re-engage in their community. The following are some ideas that might help to get the ball rolling.
Travel – Invite your loved one to take a trip with you. One misconception is that travel has to be far and wide. This is not true at all! Many people spend their whole lives never exploring what their own home state or region has to offer. Start with your local tourism office. You can plan day or weekend trips that are much easier to manage with limited means and/or physical limitations.
Health & Fitness – Your loved one could join a gym. But if this is not within their comfort zone or financial means there are many ways to get fit and healthy without joining a gym. Exploring the local landscape through hiking, biking, or outdoor yoga are a few options.
Joining a social organization – There are a number of options out there. Churches, local social and political groups. You can also use Meetup.com and local Facebook groups. Through these, you can find free social groups and events in your area.
Other social opportunities for widows
Senior Center – The local senior center offers a number of events and activities.
Art/Theatre/Music/Photography – Many widows report that exploring their creative side is both exciting and therapeutic. Getting involved in the Arts can sometimes be pricey.Nevertheless, there are a number of ways to explore creativity without breaking the bank.
Gardening or Cooking – Community classes are often offered in a variety of settings.
Quilting groups – Quilting is a fun activity that can be enjoyed alone or in a social setting.
Adopt a pet – Welcoming a furry friend into the home is also recommended. This may be just the ticket to lifting your loved one’s spirits and giving them renewed purpose. Fostering is also an option. This can help if the commitment of adoption is daunting . There is even a non-profit group Paws for Seniors that aids in the placement of orphaned “senior” pets who need good homes.
Volunteering/mentoring – This is a great, free way to get involved and give back to your community. Are you unsure what capacity you want to volunteer in or where to start? Consider what you are most passionate about. What individual talents you have to offer. Then you can find volunteer organizations that best match your skill set.
Start a blog – Blogging is a good option. Blogging can be a great creative outlet. It also allow a senior to share the wealth of experience and knowledge they have gained throughout their lifetime.