When we’re younger, friendships often develop easily. Children and teens bond through neighborhood play, in school, sports teams, scout troops and special-interest clubs. Adults forge lasting bonds in the workplace and through mutual social connections. But developing new friendships as we get older, especially after retirement, can be a bit more challenging.
Maintaining friendships and creating new social connections is very important for healthy aging. Many studies have shown that having friends can help seniors avoid loneliness and isolation; boost their mental, cognitive and emotional health; and stay active, which benefits physical health. Ready to make some new friends but not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions that may help.
1. Seek Out People Who Share Your Interests
Whether you live in a neighborhood, apartment complex, or senior living community, if you stay inside your place all the time, there won’t be many opportunities to meet new people. Contact local community or senior centers – or ask your senior living community’s Healthy Lifestyles Director – about special interest groups focused on reading, gardening, cooking, quilting, coffee or wine tasting, or other hobbies for seniors. Joining one of these groups will give you a good foundation for forming new bonds.
2. Get Moving in a Group Setting
Sign up for a class at a local dance studio. Join a gym that offers group workout programs. Or participate in a fitness class offered by your senior living community. Whether it’s Zumba, water aerobics, a round of golf or yoga – taking part in physical activity allows you to get stronger and healthier while sharing an experience, and possibly some laughs, with potential new friends.
3. Volunteer Your Time
Giving some of your time to a good cause will boost your spirits, because you’ll know you’re helping others. As you stock a food pantry, gift-wrap items for a toy drive or help clean up a park, you’ll likely have plenty of opportunities to strike up conversations with your fellow volunteers and learn about more ways you can volunteer together.
4. Consider a Class
Community and senior centers, retirement communities, and even community colleges and universities often offer low-cost (or even free) classes in art, photography, computer skills and other subjects you may have always wanted to study. Through these classes, you can meet potential new friends of many ages who share your passion.
5. Take a Trip
Want to take in some of the local sights or even take a longer trip to somewhere new? Many senior centers and retirement communities offer bus trips to local points of interest, like museums, restaurants, shopping areas, casinos and beaches. Bring a family member or friend along or fly solo and strike up conversations as you shop, eat or check out a new exhibit.
6. Accept Invitations
Do you regularly get invited to dinner parties or outings with family and friends? Try to get over your shyness or worries that you won’t enjoy yourself and use these parties or trips to expand your social circle. You never know who you might meet, and a casual chat could turn into a lifelong friendship.
Learn more about the social events and activities available to help you develop new friendships, stay active and live healthier at Elmcroft Senior Living.