How Virtual Communities Can Supplement Social Fulfillment During Retirement

Retirement is a significant change for older adults - from the change of routine to the struggle of staying connected to their former colleagues, retirement is a big adjustment that most may feel leaves a huge gap of free time. And while many plan for the financial side of retirement, most don't consider the social aspect.

“Working life offers opportunities to create and maintain social networks, while retirement may change these networks.” - European Journal of Aging

Fortunately, social networking platforms make it easier for retirees to indulge in their interests, discover new hobbies, learn more about aging, and make new friends in the process!

Platforms like SecureSeniorConnections® (SSC), differ from other social networking platforms because it specifically tailored to seniors and older adults. 

Our safe, easy-to-use, HIPAA-compliant platform offers:

  • Community building to give members a sense of belonging, 
  • Content and virtual events on physical health and self-development
  • Interest groups to help members connect with others

Working offers opportunities to naturally have a social network through connections with co-workers. While the transition to retirement may make more free time for family and friends, not all retirees live close to family or have access to a large group of friends. 

Social isolation poses a higher health risk than cigarettes! 

“There can also be physical consequences, possibly from a lack of activity but also from the stress of feeling alone.” - Forbes

Those who suffer from social isolation and loneliness are at higher risk for high blood pressure, stroke, cognitive decline, and weakened immune system, and are more susceptible to dementia. 

The European Journal of Aging conducted a study amongst public sector retirees to determine the ties within their social networks during the retirement transition. The model utilized three concentric circles to represent varying degrees of proximity to the focal individual. The innermost circle asked respondents to identify the number of individuals they felt an unbreakable bond with, while the middle circle referred to those who were still important but, not as close. The outer circle accounted for additional people who were important enough to be included in the individual's personal network. The sum of all three circles determined the total number of network ties.

This study found that retirement has a significant impact on social relationships, as evidenced by the decrease in social network ties during this period. This aligns with the assumptions of the social convoy model, which suggests that changes in circumstances can greatly affect social connections.

During retirement, social connections tend to decrease, but the number of closest ties remains stable. This applies to all subgroups, except for those in upper-grade non-manual occupations, who may have more coworkers among their closest ties and experience a decrease in these ties during the retirement transition.

What does this mean for Medicare and Healthcare partners? 

As retirees' relationships with former co-workers decrease throughout the course of retirement, medicare and healthcare plans have the opportunity to partner with virtual networking platforms like SSC,  to address the loneliness gap which retirees may face. 

We’ve discussed in previous blog posts, how virtual communities and learning can help decrease loneliness, social isolation, and the illnesses that come with those conditions.  

Additionally, offering the benefit of the SSC platform to retirees not only helps them but it means they’re more likely to retain their membership with your plan over competitors.

To learn more about the benefits of SSC’s impact on STARS and SDoH, check out last week’s post.

Works Cited and Further Reading:

Kauppi, M., Virtanen, M., Pentti, J. et al. Social network ties before and after retirement: a cohort study. Eur J Ageing18, 503–512 (2021).

Pascale, Rob. “Why It’s Important to Stay Social in Retirement and How to Do It.” Forbes, 31 Oct. 2019,