By Vanessa Mangru // SWNS
The average American over 55 has just four friends they can count on, according to new research.
A new survey found that of 2,000 Americans aged 55 and older, a fifth feel lonely more than half the week (19%).
Three in four admit that their social circle has shrunk as they’ve gotten older (77%), with nearly half of respondents (48%) sharing that they’ve stopped being friends with at least three people in the last two years alone.
However, the survey conducted by OnePoll for Life Time found that 83% feel it’s never too late in life to create fulfilling relationships.
In their elder years, people want to focus on spending their time with friends and family (52%), traveling (40%) and improving their overall health (39%).
It’s no surprise, then, that 70% said they’re interested in making new friends, citing that it’s important to find someone who likes the same things (55%), who they can have a great conversation with (50%), who has had similar life experiences (49%) and who wants to remain active together (40%).
More than half of respondents said they wish there was a community of people their age to spend time with near them (53%), and 64% claim they would be more physically active if they had someone to do it with – in fact, 46% shared that they’ve made a new friend while being active.
While six in 10 are already trying to be more active at this age than ever before (62%), 37% admit it can get lonely by themselves.
Sixty percent of Americans aged 55 and older said they’d try out a new activity if they had someone to do it with, hoping to make a friend through walking or hiking (48%), swimming (32%) or strength and conditioning classes (31%).
“It may seem intimidating to try something new, like pickleball, yoga or dance classes” said Renee Main, senior vice president of healthy aging at Life Time. “But actually it’s a great way to make new friends – while improving your health and overall well-being – especially when you’re supported by a coach who’s been trained to assist older adults.”
Similarly, 63% admit that they’ve put off certain aspects of taking care of their health like exercising regularly (54%), eating well (37%) and drinking enough water (37%).
And 86% of respondents agree that if you want to make the most of your “golden years,” it’s important to be as healthy and active as you can. Most respondents agreed that one of their goals at this age is to live each of their days to the fullest (79%), and two in three want to live a healthier life to play with their grandchildren instead of just watching them play.
Sixty-five percent also recognize that their health has had a significant impact on the activities and lifestyle they enjoy – but there’s still hope according to the 83% of respondents who said it’s never too late to get healthy.
In fact, 73% said they’re happier when they’re active and a similar percentage plan on investing more time in their health to help them live a fulfilling life (74%).
“Whether you’re nine years old or 90, people tend to be happier and healthier when they regularly participate in activities with friends,” said Main. “If you want to experience a long and joyful life, then get out there, make new friends, and have fun trying new things together.”