People who are lonely in their retirement usually display these 11 behaviors (without realizing it)

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Retirement is a time of enormous transition. It’s when a person crosses the bridge from a career to deciding for themselves what to do with their time. 

This comes with many opportunities, but it’s also full of challenges. 

It’s especially common for retirees to start feeling lonely and a bit abandoned in their golden years. 

What do they do now?

Many retirees turn to the following behaviors without realizing it:

1) Turning on the tube

Cable TV and streaming programs like Netflix and Prime have plenty of engaging and quality content. 

But overindulging can often be a sign of loneliness

The world isn’t supplying the kind of fulfillment somebody is looking for so they turn to the screen instead. 

This can become particularly pronounced during retirement when somebody is feeling a little blue or lonely: 

They may spend excessive amounts of time watching television or streaming services as a way to fill the void of social interaction as well as to push down the confusion and sadness of transitioning to a new life after their career. 

2) Spending all their time online

Those who get lonely in retirement often turn to the internet in general. 

They go from working all the time to spending their life online. This is a symptom of those who are lonely in general, of course, but it can be especially noticeable in those who have hung up the gloves on their career. 

This is particularly the case if their spouse is still working and kids are grown up and moved out and they feel “out of the loop” in life as a result. 

If one were to add up all the time they spent on social media and YouTube it would be enough to sink a ship. 

Social media forums as well as online friends can become a real fixation, using up lots of their time and energy.

3) Apathy about life 

Retirees experiencing loneliness often feel sort of apathetic about life

It’s not noticeable enough to be termed depression, which is why it often flies under the radar. 

The underlying feeling is that they have lost their purpose or identity in some subtle way, but it’s hard to put their finger on – plus they feel embarrassed about not enjoying retirement since they’ve been socially conditioned to believe it’s going to be great. 

As Lawrence Robinson and Melinda Smith, M.A. note

“Instead of feeling free, relaxed, and fulfilled, you feel depressed, aimless, and isolated. 

“You may grieve the loss of your old life, feel stressed about how you’re going to fill your days, or worried about the toll that being at home all day is taking on your relationship with your spouse or partner.”

4) Irregular sleep 

The apathy I mentioned in the previous point along with watching a lot more media and spending more time online often feeds into an irregular sleep pattern.

Retirees who are feeling lonely without realizing it often experience disruptions in their sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping. 

They begin having periods of feeling awake for days or overly sleepy for days and start falling out of sync with their circadian rhythm without the structure of an external schedule. 

This ties into the next point: 

5) Excessive napping

Napping is a treat that many of us learn to enjoy from a young age, but it can become a real addiction for retirees who are feeling lonely. 

They turn to frequent naps throughout the day as a way to escape from feelings of loneliness and fill up empty hours.

It’s not only boredom or feeling lonely, either. 

The increased napping and lazing around is also due to often feeling more physically drained. 

6) Letting hobbies lapse 

Along with the previous symptoms of a lonely retiree, these folks often lose interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed.

They find it challenging to muster enthusiasm or motivation even when friends invite them out.

The ironic thing is that while being busy working they allocated more time and energy to their hobbies, but now that they really have the time and (should) have the energy, they’re just not feeling it. 

The retirement often becomes an energy sinkhole instead of being fi

7) Decline in personal hygiene

Retirees who are feeling lonely often exhibit a noticeable decline in personal hygiene and grooming. 

When I say noticeable I mean it is observable by others, but it tends to go over their head. 

They don’t notice that they are neglecting self-care and things like bathing less frequently or wearing wrinkled clothing escape their notice. 

This is because the same apathy and loneliness feeding into a decline of personal hygiene is also sapping their self-awareness of how they look and how clean they are. 

8) Avoiding social situations 

Retirees who are feeling lonely will often avoid social gatherings or community events.

Whereas work was an environment where they knew their place and had an assigned role and function, the newfound freedom is dizzying instead of empowering. 

They aren’t sure what to do with all the time on their hands and find it overwhelming to make new connections or even keep up with many old connections. 

They prefer to stay home alone rather than face potential rejection or discomfort.

9) Eating too much or too little 

Retirees who are feeling lost in their golden years often have trouble with their diet.

They may develop unhealthy eating habits, such as overeating or undereating.

This is usually a pattern that they fall into without really realizing it and without thinking too much about it. 

They just feel like that extra tub of ice cream on a Friday night, or forgot to eat the past two days other than that old bag of Doritos. 

No big deal, right? 

But underneath these skewed eating habits is usually a subconscious way to cope with feelings of loneliness or boredom (either by overindulging or becoming overly ascetic). 

10) Loss of interest in the future 

They may exhibit a lack of motivation or interest in planning for the future.

This is often driven by feeling as though there is little to look forward to in retirement without meaningful connections or activities.

Optimally, of course, retirees will have a social circle of others who they spend time with and still have a social life. 

But for some who become lonely, the end of their working life coincides with a feeling of apathy and lack of interest about the future including its social and romantic aspects. 

11) Focusing on regrets and the past 

Retirees who are suffering from loneliness often start waxing nostalgic or focusing on regrets. 

They tend to be very hard on themselves and may engage in negative self-talk or ruminate on past regrets.

Understandably, this can contribute to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.

As Robinson and Smith note

“There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to respond when dealing with a major life change, so don’t try to bully yourself into feeling a certain way about retirement. 

“Whether you feel angry, sad, anxious, grief-stricken, or a mix of emotions, by acknowledging and accepting what you’re feeling, you’ll find that even the most intense or unpleasant emotions will soon pass.”

Enjoying an enriching retirement

Enjoying an enriching retirement is a matter of seeing it as a crowning achievement rather than an exit door. 

Rather than being the end of life, retirement is the beginning of a new one. 

It’s a chance for an individual to do what they always wanted to and to discover new people, places, ideas and experiences.

As Heidi Ardis writes:

“Retirement, in many ways, can be an age of discovery for us as we find new pursuits that interest us. 

“Or we can view retirement as an opportunity to make up for lost time, doing the things we’ve long wanted to do but didn’t have time for.”

8 non-negotiable boundaries every introvert sets in a friendship

Men who feel alone in life but never open up about it usually display these 10 behaviors