Making Friends Later in Life
We now know how important it is to stay connected with family, friends and our community as we grow older. It impacts seniors’ mental, emotional, and physical health. Having a circle of friends who provide companionship, humor and support for life’s adventures enriches our lives.
Social connections also lower older adults’ risk for heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, and maybe even Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors who lack friends or are unable to spend regular time with friends experience higher rates of depression.
The good news is you can make friends at any age.
7 Ways to Make Friends in Later Life
If you or a senior loved one want to expand your social circle and make new friends, these ideas can help you get started.
- Join a Club: Think about what your favorite hobbies and pastimes are and find a local club of people with similar interests. For adults who call a senior living community home, this is easy to do. But if you haven’t yet made the move to a retirement community, you might call the local senior center, agency on aging or public library to find out what groups meet there.
- Volunteer Your Time: Spending time helping others or working for a cause you are passionate about is another great way for older adults to connect with their peers. org is an organization that can help you find a volunteer opportunity near you.
- Take a Class: A new hobby or skill like a foreign language class or guitar lessons is another avenue for making new friends. It also has the added benefit of helping to keep your brain healthy and fit.
- Fitness Programs: Seniors often connect with one another through fitness programs such as Tai Chi, Chair Yoga, and swimming. The local YMCA is often a good place to participate in programs like these.
- Senior Trips: Organizations like AAA and local senior centers frequently sponsor trips for seniors. Some are afternoon or evening outings, while others might be trips that last for a few days or longer. Destinations range from theater events to casino outings and historical sites.
- Church or Synagogue: Seniors often play a vital role in religious organizations. Make a point of investigating what opportunities your church or synagogue offers and get involved!
- Adopt a Furry Friend: If your health and budget permit, consider adopting an older dog. Walking them each day and taking your dog to the local park gives you the opportunity to meet and socialize with fellow animal lovers.
Tips for Building Friendship in Retirement Communities
Some retirement communities, such as Era Living, have welcoming committees or resident ambassador groups to make new residents feel welcome and to easily befriend others as soon as they move in. Approach fellow residents with openness. Focus on them. Ask questions about their family, hobbies, and interests. It will help you find common ground and begin to build a bond. Remember, friendships take time to develop so be patient and don’t get discouraged.
Friendships are an important part of positive, successful aging. Making an effort to build new relationships can help you live a happier, healthier life.