The importance of a social network after retirement

In many cases, a large part of social life takes place in a work situation; colleagues you see on a daily basis, relationships you meet with and meeting new people. However, many of these social contacts expire when you stop working and retire. It is therefore important for retirees to look for ways to maintain social contacts or get to know new people. This reduces the chance of social isolation and/or loneliness during the retirement period. In this article we give tips and suggestions for maintaining or expanding a social network after you retire.

Social contacts

A social network is important. Research shows that having social contacts and ‘continuing to participate in society’ has positive effects on well-being, mood and health. When you retire, contacts that you previously had – in many cases even daily – contact with expire. Sometimes you find out that this was a pure working relationship, but there is also a social character to it. After you retire, however, having a social network remains very important.

Importance of social network after retirement, the figures

Map your social network

To find out for yourself how your social contacts are doing, you can map out your social network. Various advanced and extensive tools and organizations can be found for detailed mapping of your social network, but usually a simplified version is also sufficient to get a good picture of the structures of your social network.

Take a moment and make a list of the people you currently have an important personal connection with. This does not necessarily have to be just your immediate family, but also think of friends, acquaintances and neighbors. If you want to go deeper into this, you can also put the people in order or assign a certain number; with whom do you have the most connection and with whom less? In this way you get a picture for yourself of who you experience support and help in your life.

Importance of social network after retirement - map your network

Who can you always fall back on?

Another way is to answer the questions below to make yourself aware of your social network and the people you can fall back on:

  • Who would you describe as a good friend? And why this particular person?
  • Who do you talk to about difficult issues? Why exactly with that one?
  • Who do you have contact with in your living environment? How would you describe this contact? Why don’t you have contact with certain people in the area?
  • How is the contact with your family members? Who do you find the most support from?
  • Who is always there for you?
  • Take a look at the breakdown of your telephone bills; which 5 people do you call the most? Why exactly with these people?
  • Who visits you the most? And who do you visit the most? Is that the same person? Why yes/no?
  • With which people do you have the most contact online – for example via WhatsApp or social media? How would you describe contact with these people?
  • At which location do you meet the most (new) people?
  • Who never forgets your birthday or another important day?

By answering the above questions, you gain insight into your social network, after which you could intensify some social contacts and perhaps close others. It shows who is important to you, from whom you experience support and who can fall back on.

TIPS | How do you expand your social network?

Contact with others is an important condition for experiencing social support. Social contacts are vital for joie de vivre, resilience and good health. When you have few social contacts, it becomes difficult to receive help when it is needed. This has only become clearer during the corona crisis; people with little or no social contacts became socially isolated and increasingly lonely.

If you have few (or no) social contacts, it is wise to try to expand your social network. But how? We give some tips.

Volunteer work
Volunteering not only gives you a goal to use your time in a meaningful way, but it also helps you connect with others. Examples of volunteer work where you get to know new people include a host/hostess in a care institution, guide in a museum, providing tutoring or a board position in a (religious) community.

Join a club or association
One of the best ways to meet new people after retirement is to join a club or association of people with similar interests. Think, for example, of a cooking club, a sports club or a reading club. This kills two birds with one stone; you meet new people and you are doing something you enjoy.

Follow a course or study
By following an interesting course or study you not only keep your brain active, but you often also get to know new people (with the same interest!). This is especially the case when you take the course at a specific location (and not via an online self-study). Examples include language, photography or computer courses, which are often organized in community centers or community centres.

Reviving a faded contact
Friends come and go. Maybe you had a very close relationship with someone years ago, but that contact – for whatever reason – has faded. You might consider re-establishing contact. However, remember that both of your lives have moved on. A lot has probably happened in the meantime, so plenty to discuss!

Good preparation for your retirement

With the Essenburgh Pension training in sight, we will discuss various aspects of retirement, together with you. Important themes such as finances, your social network, health and saying goodbye are discussed. A perfect preparation for your retirement.

Knowing more? View the different Pension in Sight training courses. Or download the (free) checklist on the right and find out immediately how well you are already prepared for your retirement.

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Ans Withaar

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