Downsizing is a great way to free up funds and eliminate the pressure of maintaining a large home. As a first step to getting more out of life, it’s hard to beat. But moving to a new, low-maintenance home, retirement village or even residential aged care can also mean a big adjustment to your social life.
Whether you’ve actively chosen your new location– a new state, a country town or just the next suburb along – or it just happens to be where your new place is located, you might find it hard to adjust to a new social environment and establish new connections with the people around you. When we move, we can’t always bring our existing friends, family and interests with us.
But through a combination of new technology and old fashioned friendliness, it’s easier than you think to maintain connections with your old networks while building new friendships and interests. Here are some tips for staying connected in your new home.
Skype and FaceTime
Skype and FaceTime are the two most popular video phone call programs in the world. If you’ve got a computer, a tablet or even a smartphone, you’ll be able to use one or both. And, amazingly, you can see and talk to people next door or half a world away completely free (aside from your regular internet or mobile phone charges).
Chat with kids, grandkids, and friends with the click of a button. You’ll need access to the internet, of course, but otherwise it’s super easy to stay in touch.
Friends or family members can probably help you get set up if you need a hand, or you could get help from home carers or community workers if you qualify for assistance. While they are there, get them to help you do your grocery shopping online and you’ve just freed up enough time to go down the local club.
Many libraries and community houses also offer free sessions to get you set up and using Skype or FaceTime with confidence. These tools are in common use; why not give it a go!
Despite the bad press, Facebook isn’t just about getting scammed and posting photos of your lunch. People of all ages use Facebook every day to connect with friends, family and social groups, keep up with the latest news from their community, and share their latest news.
Ask someone from your real-life social network to show you the ropes; it’s easy to learn, fun to use, and keeps you in the loop with the special people in your life, wherever they are.
The personal touch
As great as tech is for keeping in touch with people you know, it’s pretty rubbish for meeting new people (unless you’re really adventurous and have a Tinder . To meet and connect with new people, a step out into the real world is usually your best bet.
No matter where you live, you’re usually close by clubs or social groups that share common interests, such as community work, public speaking, gardening, movies, books and even card games. Some even have buses to ferry you there and back. Connect with your council, local library, or social worker to see what’s happening near you.
Millions of Australians volunteer every year, and – at the same time – develop friendships with like-minded people. You might help out at a charity op shop, teach English to new arrivals, help at a visitor information kiosk or visit people unable to leave their homes. The range of volunteer opportunities is enormous. Check in with your council if you’re not sure where to start.
The retirement high life
If you’re setting up your new home in a retirement village or residential aged care, the hard work has probably been done for you. These days you might find cafes, gymnasiums, health spas and cinemas – perfect for meeting new people and living a fun and active life.
With so many ways to stay involved with your friends, family and community, social isolation is no longer a worry for people downsizing to a new place in a new area. By accessing the help available around you, a life full of fun activities with great company is in easy reach.