senior-on-skype

7 Loneliness-Busters You’ll Find Online

Loneliness can be debilitating, but a scaled down social life doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say that seniors who regularly engage in Internet activity are less likely to feel lonely than those without a computer.

The results of the study, to be published soon in the The Journal of Medical Internet Research, confirm what some of us already have experienced: Using the Internet can connect us with the people we care about and increase our ability to meet new people – all of which, of course, makes us feel less isolated and lonely.

Today’s web offers more and more ways to connect to the world. We’ve listed seven. You may have tried a few of them already; next time you’re stuck in the house – you’re under the weather; there’s bad weather; or you just can’t find something to do/someone to do it with – try these loneliness-busters.

Reach Out

Recent statistics show that seniors are rapidly entering the social networks arena. Sign up for a network, connect with friends (you might even discover some old friends) and enjoy the results.

  • Facebook – in case you’re not one of the more billion-plus people already using it – is a free online network where users register and create a personal profile. Add friends; exchange messages, photos, etc.; and check your newsfeed to see what the people you’re connected with are posting. Some people have discovered long-lost friends on Facebook (and some wish they hadn’t!).
  • Skype lets you enjoy face-to-face live-video visits via the Internet, using a webcam or your computer or tablet’s built-in camera and microphone. You can download the latest version of Skype and connect for free after you’ve set up a profile and made or accepted contact requests with friends. (Click here for instructions on how to get started on Skype.)

Listen to Music

Experts say that listening to your favorite music can be extremely uplifting, especially when you listen to familiar songs.

Get Educated

Going back to school is now just a click away. Even when you study online, you’re part of a community, and coursework can connect you to students of all ages who share your interests. Click here to see Senior Planet’s list of free online courses. And check out…

  • Coursera, and online resource that partners with top universities and organizations offering online courses for free. The technology enables these educational partners to offer millions of students access to a world-class education.

Volunteer

Numerous studies have shown that those suffering with depression and anxiety feel better when helping others. Performing acts of kindness pushes aside negative emotions. Don’t worry if you’re homebound: Plenty of groups need callers or envelope stuffers.

  • Volunteer Match connects you with opportunities (disaster call center? child care?) based on the causes you’re interested in and your skills and capabilities.
  • Create the Good is an AARP volunteer portal that encourages members (AARP Membership is $16.00 per year) to help make a difference in the world.

Join an Online Community

Online communities use groups, message boards and other discussion tools to connect you with others around specific interests and concerns – or just to chat. While there are not many senior-specific online communities, you’ll find plenty that bring together people of all ages who share a particular hobby or passion.

  • The AARP Community is the biggest and most lively. Click here to check out an online conversation about older seniors’ computer savviness. [Update 10/6/16: The AARP Community has been discontinued.]
  • Travellers Point is a community of people who love to travel.

Get a Pet

Studies show that owning a pet improves both physical and emotional health and is a sure way to beat loneliness.

  • PAWS (Seniors for Seniors) adoption program places senior cats and dogs (typically over 7 years of age) with people over 60. PAWS’ online matchmakers help you select a companion that fits into your lifestyle and housing situation at a reduced adoption rate of $35. (Click here to see more online resources for pet choice and care.)

Can’t have a pet? Check out Explore and view live webcams of cats, dogs, and wildlife.

Meditate

Researchers at UCLA have found that seniors who practice meditation were able to reduce feelings of loneliness and also boost their immune systems.

  • Sahaja Yoga Meditation offers free online course for the purest form of meditation through videos and audio guided meditations.
  • Deepak Chopra’s site has a wide variety of books, CDs, and videos about learning and practicing meditation. Prices vary.

Got an online loneliness-buster you like to use? Share the info in the comments box below.

13 comments
  • Chris
    REPLY

    Hi, Can the two of you enjoy each other? I am widowed. When one says that I have to talk to the walls, I can say that I know what you mean because there is no one else in my home. I am just motivated to tell you to enjoy each other before one of you is REALLY alone.

  • sagar
    REPLY

    Hi there, I’m a Buddhist monk and I currently live in Bangkok. I love to talk with senior citizens and help them to overcome their loneliness with my gentle & compassionate words. If anyone would like to converse with me via skype, please contact me. Its free!

    • Kathleen Brown
      REPLY

      Hello Sagar – Are you still offering to chat with folks online? I don’t have Skype set up yet but could accomplish that I’m sure. Also I’m new to Senior Planet so I don’t know how to communicate on this platform yet.
      thank you
      Kathy
      Long Island, New York
      USA

  • Chuck Michaels
    REPLY

    “seniors who regularly engage in Internet activity are less likely to feel lonely ”

    Sure, right. Seeing how OTHER people are living life to the fullest, having great times at social occasions with a retinue of friends, regularly seeing their successful and independent adult children with their own perfect families — oh yeah, browsing all that is going to make a lonely, trapped senior feel better?

    • Kathleen Brown
      REPLY

      Hello Chuck – I know what you mean. Hopefully some of this is temporary but I too am somewhat trapped and am resigned to seeing other folks with a life, enjoy themselves. I think the real answer is engagement on any level. You seem intelligent – is there a reading group at a library near you?
      Kathy in New York

    • Grace
      REPLY

      I agree, Chuck, and a person wants to reach out, but there are so many weirdos out there. I’d just be tickled to death to find someone “normal” to talk to. I miss the good ol’ days, when we didn’t have all this crazy stuff going on and people were just out to find a good friend to talk with or do things with. It was all very innocent and lovely. What a crazy world we live in now. Somebody always wanting to use someone or just jump in the sack. No morals whatsoever. To me, it’s sickening and sad. No integrity or respect about themselves, either.

      • Patricia Evitt
        REPLY

        Hi Grace,
        I agree, there appear to be so many unethical people out there, and sadly, everyone in my family belongs in that category. I have disowned them all, since the only time they contact me is when they need money. If I need help, they are never there for me. If it weren’t for all my furbabies, I would have committed suicide a long time ago. I don’t go to church. I have no clothes to wear, and frankly my experience has been that every church I ever attended has been full of hypocrites who made it their mission to look down on me or otherwise ignore me. It would be wonderful just to talk with someone who wouldn’t judge me or preach to me. Maybe we could assuage each other’s loneliness. At this point, my self esteem has been destroyed by the callous treatment I have received from my kids and grandkids.

  • Sandra Roemer
    REPLY

    Hi, been looking through the sight to find, ohhh myy gosh theres something for seniors, or the elderly.
    My husband and I are so lonely, especially me I like to be around people, I and my husband like to laugh.Why nobody hardly comes to see us I dont know, theres that 4 letter word I have come to dislike BUSY.We have tried senior centers and really didnt like them, being honest We found them very clickish thats only our oplnlon, I am limited as to knowing how to do things on the computer.I am tired of being depressed its a terrible thing but you can pull yourself out, talking to someone on the phone, having someone come over or us going to visit them would be great, We are good people, theres got to be more to life then looklng at the walls,its hard to think of what to write, we are both in our 60, s.

    • Vonnie
      REPLY

      I understand completely, Sandra.

      Is there a Barnes & Noble in your area? It’s a great place to hang out at the cafe, read magazines, books, and people watch. Become a regular and you might find other regulars there as well.

      Unless you’re physically disabled, you should make an effort to go somewhere everyday where there’s people. It makes a difference. Really!

      Good luck and get out of that house. :)

      Thanks for commenting.
      Vonnie

  • Ouzinki
    REPLY

    The photo of the gentleman wearing the headphone/mic in the first image made me thing of another method under the communications heading: HAM radio. Its much easier to qualify for your license today, and given modern radio, combined with the internet, you can talk to just about anywhere on earth using low power equipment.

    With an entry-level license, a lower-end hand held transceiver and a separate hand held antenna, you can even communicate with the International Space Station, which has several HAM stations on board.

    Something to think about anyway.

    • Vonne
      REPLY

      Great idea, Helen. Communicating with youngsters is supposed to keep you feeling young and you could teach them a thing or two. :)

    • Vonnie
      REPLY

      Good thinking, Ouzinki. What better way to beat the lonelys than communicating with people all over the world. How do you go about getting a license?

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