The role of a social worker is to help improve the lives of individuals by providing resources and assistance needed to cope with problems they are facing. As a social service organization, Old Colony Elder Services’ (OCES) mission is to support the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living.

One of the most common problems that OCES’ social workers help older adults cope with is social isolation. In Massachusetts, there are a significant number of older adults who continue to live independently in their own homes, and many of them live alone.

Social isolation and loneliness can negatively affect well-being over time. Yet, this lack of community is something that can be improved, as there are a number of support systems and resources available to older adults through organizations such as OCES.

Councils on Aging (COAs) provide valuable resources as well as many recreational and socialization opportunities. Essentially, these “communities” for older adults offer a variety of activities such as crafts, games, special events, fitness classes, and special interest clubs – all under one roof. For older adults who no longer drive or who are unable to utilize public transportation, many COAs even offer transportation to and from their sites.

Getting involved in the community offers opportunities for socializing while also providing a sense of belonging.  As COVID-19 guidance evolves and things begin to open up, here are some ideas to help you engage in the community:

  • Attend local events. From art displays in the park, free concerts on the town common, Farmer’s Markets and other happenings in your town – simply show up!
  • Share your talent or hobby. Display your photography or teach a small group how to knit or build birdhouses.
  • Join the local garden club. Expand your knowledge of flowers and plants and enjoy being part of your town’s beautification process.
  • Work on a community project with others. From painting the local church fence to decorating a float for the town’s parade, special projects can spark new friendships.
  • Join a walking group. Not only is walking one of the best ways to keep fit, walking with a group is safer and more fun than walking alone.
  • Shop local. They appreciate your business and you’ll appreciate the extra attention they give you.
  • Support your local sports team. No need to travel far to enjoy a great baseball game on a warm summer evening. Bring a lawn chair and get ready to cheer.
  • Volunteer at a local organization. From the animal shelter to the food pantry, these nonprofits are in need of helping hands. Plus, older adults who volunteer report fewer disabilities, experience lower rates of depression and express higher levels of well-being.

Get to know others in your community and allow them to get to know you. Participating in the community, and staying engaged and connected are all key when it comes to maintaining your well-being.