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Being social usually comes naturally when you’re young and able; however, it can be harder to maintain relationships and friendships – let alone make new ones – when you’re older or disabled, or if you are a carer looking after someone else.

If you are unable to go outside without support it becomes much more difficult to maintain any kind of social life, which is the reason people sometimes become isolated.

Retirement and bereavement – or simply having friends and family move away – can result in your social circle dwindling over the years until it might feel like you have no-one left to chat to.

Yet it’s important that you don't become cut off from other people. Study after study has shown that people with friends and strong community networks are physically healthier and are far less likely to become lonely, isolated and depressed.

There are all sorts of opportunities to get together with other people in various groups and clubs, indoor and outdoor activities and by taking yourself off for a holiday.

Depending on your circumstances, you might consider looking for work or perhaps returning to education. If you have time on your hands, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities around, including roles for people who wish to volunteer from home.

If you have mobility problems and receive certain benefits, you might be eligible for a new car under the Motability Car Scheme or a Blue Badge.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is all that’s needed: a holiday maybe, or, if you are a carer, a short break will give you a break from your caring role and a chance to get out and meet people. If your plans involve travel, check in advance what assistance can be provided on public transport.

Thanks to technology and social media, being social doesn’t have to involve leaving your home. Keeping in touch with friends and family is easy with email and social media sites like Facebook. Depending on your interests, you might enjoy making friends online. Many national charities now run online forums where you can chat to people in similar circumstances around the world any time of the day or night.

If you’d prefer face-to-face conversations, there are various befriending schemes depending on your individual circumstances and where you live.

Even if you don’t always feel like being sociable, remember that having a friendly chat with someone is one of the most enjoyable ways of improving your overall well-being.

Last updated: 31/05/2016