THE SENIOR CORNER - JIM MEADOWS 1/12/2018
Happy New Year! It's hard to believe, but 2018 is already upon us, and maybe you're starting to think about New Year's Resolutions. Too often, that phrase gets us thinking about ways we haven't quite measured up somehow. Have no fear; there are no diet tips here! I believe we're better served by adding new, fun things to our lives than by beating ourselves up. And broadening your social circle is one of the best things you can do for your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Research has suggested that the health risks of social isolation and loneliness are comparable to or even greater than those brought on by obesity, physical inactivity, violence, and substance abuse. According to a 2015 meta-analysis, social isolation, loneliness, and living alone increase the likelihood of death by about 30%. And SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) reports that LGBT older adults are more likely to live alone, to be single and childless, and to be estranged from their biological families than their straight and cisgender peers.
So what can we do about it? For many LGBT people, bars have long been the first thing we think of when looking for a place to socialize, but there are a lot more options out there. Here are six:
1) Get the Party Started. The simplest solution may be the one nearest at hand: Dig out your old black book. If you've fallen out of touch with friends and are feeling lonelier for having done so, chances are that some of them feel the same way. Why not throw a Mardi Gras party to get everybody (re)acquainted?
2) Volunteer. You've been talking about doing this for years. 2018 is the year to follow through! Volunteer work is number one on my list of the best ways to bring some great new people into your life. There are a number of LGBT organizations that could definitely use your help: NOAGE, PFLAG, and the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans are just a few. However, there are countless worthy causes that could use your help. The best resource I've found is VolunteerMatch. You can search by location and by the type of organizations you'd like to help. I really can't recommend this enough.
3) Meet-Up Groups. Common interests make for the best of friends. Whether you're looking for a book club, a discussion group, or a cooking class, there's almost certainly a meet-up group for that near you. Check out MeetUp.com to find the one you're looking for.
4) Take a Class. The New Orleans Lifelong Learning Cooperative (NOLLC) is a life-long learning community offering cultural and educational enrichment through classes and discussion groups. To find out more about their offerings, email email@example.com, or click here to subscribe to their newsletter.
5) Join a Team. Stonewall Sports is a community-based LGBTQIA non-profit sports organization. They host several sports leagues in New Orleans, including kickball, volleyball, and dodgeball (shout-out to the Dirty Dianas!). Getting involved with a sports team is a great way to meet new friends and to have fun while getting in shape. (Be sure to check with your physician before starting any type of fitness program.)
6) NOAGE Events. NOAGE has regular social events for LGBT older adults and their allies, including Coffee Talks, Movie Nights, a Potluck Club, and more. The best way to stay informed about NOAGE events is to subscribe to our newsletter. To subscribe, click HERE and scroll down until you see the subscribe box or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out about our events on Facebook.
If you'd like to try some of the above ideas out, but just aren't able to get out of the house for one reason or another, we've got volunteers who would love to come visit you. Our number is (504)517-2345. It might seem like you're alone, but it doesn't have to be that way. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
I hope some of these ideas have got you excited for some of the good things - and good friends - that this year can bring to you. May 2018 be your best year ever!