Written by: Aaron Hall | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Living alone can feel isolating. It might feel like there's not much to do when you're taking care of the house by yourself and visitors don't come as often as you'd like. You can combat feelings of boredom or loneliness by engaging in hobbies or activities that encourage socialization and build your strength physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here is a list of things we recommend.
Doing Arts and Crafts
Creating anything with your hands is stimulating mentally. Art therapy has been used to help memories resurface for those who suffer from dementia. Some quality activities include the following:
- Ceramic molding
Many of these activities can be engaging on a social level. See if your local recreation center offers classes for the above-mentioned activities or anything similar. This is a great way to engage in an environment where you can make friends and practice something you'll enjoy.
Volunteering is an opportunity to forget your own troubles and help someone in need. Wherever you are, there are organizations that need an extra pair of hands or just someone willing to give of their time, such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Boy/Girl Scouts of America, your local library, or soup kitchen.
Studies have shown that those who regularly volunteer decrease their risk of depression, enjoy a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and have reduced stress levels.
Golf is a low-intensity physical activity that requires a lot of dexterity and allows you to get out and enjoy some fresh air. The activity also improves flexibility and provides social interaction.
If you're looking to lose weight, golf might be a good option as well. The Norwegian Golf Federation found that an 18-hole game of golf burns around 2,500 calories. If you walk the whole way, it also involves taking over 10,000 steps, which is considered a good goal for the number of steps you should be taking every day.
Not only does gardening increase flexibility and mobility, but it also increases hand strength. A Stockholm study found that gardening regularly reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 30 percent if you're over the age of 60. Not only that, but most gardeners will tell you that there's a large sense of satisfaction that comes with tending rows of shrubs and blooming flowers.
Gardening also means home grown vegetables. Growing vegetables in a personal garden is doable even if you live in an apartment. All you need is a box, some plastic lining, top soil, and seeds. Most of these can be found at your local hardware store. Line the box with the plastic, fill it with the top soil, plant your seeds, set your box by an open window, and make sure to water it regularly. Growing your own vegetables like squash, carrots, peas, and tomatoes is a great way to subsidize your own food costs while providing yourself with a fun, meaningful hobby.
At any age, making exercise a habit is an important thing, but as you get older, your bones and joints aren't as strong as they once were. Some low-intensity workouts suitable for the aging adult include the following:
- Tai Chi
- Resistance band training
With these hobbies, it's a good idea to consider purchasing a medical alert system. As you continue to age, you become more and more susceptible to a fall which could become life-threatening, no matter how active you are. A list of the best medical alert companies in the industry can be found here.
Writing Poetry or Stories
For centuries, poetry has been used as a supplemental treatment for mental disorders. It's a healthy mode of self-expression and, depending on the form, encourages structure that's mentally stimulating. If you're feeling upset, sad, or lonely, poetry is a good medium for a therapeutic, emotional outlet.
Aside from that, remember that story idea you had swirling in your mind for so many years, but never had the time to write it? When you're living alone, there's no better time to do it. Writing stories allows you to visualize new people, places, and situations and following a narrative structure is a lot like building a puzzle with words. If you don't have a fictional story in mind, it's a great idea to write down your own life stories for your family to read.
Doing Family History
Genealogy has been a popular activity for many people reaching their more advanced years, and with the internet, researching your ancestors has never been easier. Some top genealogy websites include FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com, and Ancestry.com. These sites include thousands upon thousands of files representing those who have passed on, and most users find it simple to locate their ancestors and begin researching their family tree.
FamilySearch.org is a service operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but isn't restricted to use of those belonging to the LDS Church. Anyone can sign up and begin researching free of charge. However, Ancestry.com is a more popular service that costs just shy of $20/month and also provides millions of files. FindMyPast.com offers similar services at the same price but also features a 1939 Register.
Operating a Ham Radio
This is the same interface that police officers and fire fighters use to communicate. Ham radio systems can cost anywhere from $35 to over $1000, depending on what kind of range you'd like the radio to access. These systems can fit in your hand like a walkie talkie or can take up an entire desk space. However, with the latter, you can access and communicate with other ham radio operators across the world!
Just know that you have to pass a written exam in order to become officially ham radio certified. Allow yourself approximately ten hours of study time before you take the exam. The test costs $15, and you can take it as many times as you'd like until you pass with a score of 85 percent. A Technician class license will work just fine if you wish to communicate with other ham radio operators locally, but you must acquire a General class license if you want to communicate internationally.
Caring for a Pet
Pets are a great solution for feelings of loneliness or depression. There are also financial benefits to adopting a pet because they are typically cheaper to purchase through adoption than if you were to buy from a pet store. You're also saving a pet in need, so it can be a win-win.
Pets have been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction along with physical activity. The sense of companionship from dogs, in particular, increases the flow of positive hormones to the brain and body, resulting in a therapeutic experience. Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld has indicated that dogs can even help elders with their memories. In particular, some of the best dog breeds for seniors are pugs, schnauzers, cocker spaniels, chihuahuas, and Boston terriers.