As people age, they encounter changes and transitions. Changes in career, family, and health are to be expected. Maintaining friendships and remaining social is another aspect that can start to look different later in life.
Before retirement, there might have been happy hours with colleagues after work, socialization at children’s soccer games, or neighborhood dinners. However, as we grow older and these sorts of interactions decrease, it can be difficult to stay social.
One of the many benefits of living in a health and retirement community is the opportunity to meet new people around your age who may share similar experiences, values, and interests. Staying social as you age has been proven to have many health benefits, including reduced risk of mental illness, physical illness, and even mortality.
Outlined below are some simple ways to try to make friends as you age:
1. Follow Your Passions
Motivation is key when trying to meet new people—if you enjoy doing something, participating in related activities and talking with others about it will become much easier. When following your passions, the possibilities are endless—you can join a dance class, volunteer with an organization, or join a book club, either in-person or virtually. When you participate in something you like and are surrounded by others who feel similarly, there is automatically an underlying camaraderie between you and the other participants!
2. Be Physically Ready
Ensuring you have the energy and confidence to explore different opportunities will help you engage in active social settings and create space to make new friends. Opportunities include joining a walking group, participating in fitness classes, or even feeling inspired to try something new! There are a variety of different ways to stay active while striving to build strength and confidence. From gentle yoga, cycling classes, weightlifting, and more, find an activity that you enjoy to help you become more physically ready to make friends while remaining active as you age.
3. Reconnect with Old Friends
Try reconnecting with people you had great friendships with in the past. Social media is an excellent place to try to find an old friend and spark conversation—platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn each have messaging features. Do not feel bad for not staying in touch; most people face change as they age and will understand that life can be busy!
4. Actively Bring People into Your Life
Invite a small group of neighbors or friends from a class to your apartment or house for cocktails or a Trivia game! Although it may be a step outside your comfort zone at first, the effort will be worthwhile. Many people are waiting for an opportunity to meet others, so your invite could be important! It can also be simple—ask neighbors to go on a daily morning stroll around the neighborhood or even to join you at an event happening in your community or at your local library.
5. Stay Positive
Lead with a smile to make yourself more approachable! People are attracted to others who are positive and upbeat and can celebrate others’ accomplishments and milestones. Your positive energy will likely be reciprocated as you become closer with other people and will help encourage new friendships as you age.
6. Open Up
To develop close and lasting friendships, you’ll need to engage in personal conversations with others. Although it may take some time, allowing yourself to be vulnerable helps foster trust. In turn, others will be more open with you, creating a more lasting connection.
7. Make the Effort to Stay in Touch
When you make new friends, be sure to dedicate time and effort to keep the relationship moving forward. Spending quality time with someone is a clear indicator that the relationship is valued. Stay in touch in-person, or via phone calls or social media every few weeks! It can be intimidating at first, but taking initiative and finding meaningful relationships in life is very fulfilling.
To learn more about our independent and assisted living communities, please visit www.SalmonHealth.com.