AARP International

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As we age...

Widening our social circles gives us new opportunities. 

THE IMPACT

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Loneliness is a health epidemic.

Social isolation is a risk factor for earlier death, with an impact similar to that of smoking tobacco.

American Journal of Public Health, 2013

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Having a wide social circle is shown to help us find our next job. 

Finding a new job is likely to be essential, as we’re now spending more years in the workforce. As of 2017, almost 20% of Americans over 65 have continued to work—up from 12% in 1990.

American Sociological Review, 2017; US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017

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Midlife transitions can be overwhelming.

Experts say building a wide social circle, whether it’s built purposefully or serendipitously, is a common theme among those who land successful transitions as they age.

The 100-Year Life, 2016

The Takeaway

Get out there. Meet new types of people.

Advice from Real People

“ I like hosting parties that bring new people together. When I host, I ask everyone to bring two acquaintances I don’t already know. It exposes me to lots of new people and perspectives.”

“ Every month I host a ‘brain trust’ that brings friends together to brainstorm around specific challenges we want to solve. It unites the people in my network in unexpected ways.”

“ I recently decided to switch careers but didn’t know anyone outside my industry. I went to an event I found on Meetup.com and ended up meeting a new friend who let me shadow them at their work. ”

The Research

Meeting people of different backgrounds and expertise shows us new possibilities for what our lives can be.
“ A broader set of more distant relationships may lack an affective quality but exposes the individual to new, even unanticipated possibilities.”


Administrative Science Quarterly, 1999

Activities that boost our social capital can open doors to new opportunities.
“ Our results suggest (...) volunteering may indeed develop or strengthen an individual’s social capital, thereby providing volunteers access to opportunities for employment. This may be particularly important for individuals who have a greater social capital deficit, such as those lacking education.”


Office of Research and Evaluation, Corporation for National and Community Service, 2013

It’s not just close ties that help you find a new job. Having a broad network helps, too.
“ Weak ties are important collectively because of their quantity, but strong ties are important individually because of their quality.”


Journal of Labor Economics via Facebook Research, 2016

Redesign Your Time

Through the Living 100 project, AARP seeks to spark a conversation. How can we challenge our own mindsets and attitudes about aging? What do longer lifespans mean for current and future generations? How can we address disparities in race, gender, income, education and geography that can be a matter of life and death? And most importantly, how do institutions and systems need to change so that we are not only living longer, but making the most of our extra time?

 

Representing nearly 38 million people, AARP strives to ensure Americans aged 50 years and older have access to the care, information, and services they need to lead healthier lives with independence and dignity. Thus, AARP believes it’s time to Disrupt Aging—to reconceive the national conversation on what growing older means. Toward that, in an August 2017 supplemental issue sponsored by AARP, The Gerontologist put the scientific lens to Disrupt Aging via 12 peer-reviewed research papers examining how negative attitudes about aging affect health and quality of life.

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