Making friends and building relationships as a child and young adult was fairly simple. You had opportunities to meet new people at school and through extracurricular activities, and then later in the workplace. As you raised your family, you met other parents and neighbors as your children all played and grew up together.
However, as a senior, you might find that making new friends isn’t quite as easy as it used to be. After retirement, the opportunities to get out and meet people may have dwindled a bit, and access to the friends, neighbors and co-workers you used to spend time with is more limited, too.
Aging and Relationships: Avoiding Social Isolation in the Elderly
Experts agree that maintaining relationships in your later years is key to overall quality of life. In fact, studies show that those seniors who successfully avoid becoming socially isolated have better physical, emotional, and mental health- and may even live longer. They are less likely to experience chronic conditions like osteoporosis or cardiovascular problems, suffer less of the depression that stems from loneliness, and have a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
How to Make New Friends as a Senior
Because avoiding social isolation in the elderly is so vital to overall health, finding ways to get out there and meet others in your later years is definitely worth the effort. While it might seem difficult, there are actually a variety of ways for seniors to make new friends. For instance:
Take part in social activities. For those seniors who recently moved to a senior living community, taking part in weekly social activities and events provide an easy way to meet others who share similar interests. These communities recognize the importance of staying socially active, and offer a variety of ways to get residents involved with their peers.
Pursue your interests. Enjoy playing golf or tennis? Look into joining a local golf or tennis club. Are you an avid book reader? Visit the library and see if there are any book clubs you can join. Or, consider taking a class on a topic that has always interested you at a local college or community center. You’re guaranteed to meet others who share similar hobbies or interests, which provide an easy way to make new friends. Join a gym. Staying physically active is also extremely important as you age. Look for a senior fitness program in your area or take some classes at the local YMCA. This way, you’ll start seeing familiar faces every week.
Consider volunteering your time. Hospitals, museums, churches, animal shelters and more are always looking for extra hands to help out. Volunteering allows you to meet new people while doing something worthwhile in the community.
Get a part-time job. A part-time job provides an opportunity to get out of the house, even if it’s just a few hours each week. Find a job that appeals to you, whether it’s working a cash register at a coffee shop or unpacking boxes at a retail store; you’ll get to meet new people and make a little extra money, too.
Accept invitations from others. If someone you recently met invites you out to lunch or over for coffee, give it a chance. You might be surprised to find out how much you have in common! Stay in contact with old friends. If your friends aren’t close enough to visit often, utilize technology to keep in touch. Create a Facebook page, Skype, or send some emails to easily connect with the friends you don’t get to see in person regularly.