Making friends can be challenging at any age, but even more so as we get older. The ways in which you previously met friends–usually at work or your children’s school–most likely have now changed. Many of our friends have moved or retired. As we get older adult we also become more selective about friend, and often older adults just enjoy spending time alone.
Maintaining friendships throughout every stage of life is important, but especially for seniors. Experts say having healthy, fun, and positive connections and social outlets as we age is vital to our emotional and physical health.
Friends may also extend your lifespan. In a 2010 research study (conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University in Utah) concludes that people with strong social relationships can increase their chance of survival, over a certain time period, by 50 percent. In addition, the study says that being lonely and isolated can be as bad for our health as smoking or being an alcoholic.
So How Can You Make Friends?
- Go online. The internet can open up a whole new way to meet friends. For example, Meetup is a website which connects people with shared interests to face-to-face Meetup groups in your local area. There are hundreds of group available sure to meet any interest including hiking, creative writing, Sunday brunch, poetry readings, nature photography, and Reiki healing. If you don’t find the group you want, you can start your own. Membership is free. Go to: https://www.meetup.com.
- Get a dog. Owning a dog can help alleviate loneliness by creating opportunities for seniors to meet other people and socialize. Whether you are walking a pet in your neighborhood or going to the local park, a dog opens up your social world. The physical and psychological benefits of pet ownership can help keep you both happier and healthier as you age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness.
- Increase your social interactions & change your situation. The more opportunities for social interaction the more chance you have for making friends. If you are isolated in your home, it may be time to make a change. Consider moving to an apartment complex or independent senior living community to increase your social interactions and connections.
Contact the professional Senior Advocates at Assisted Living Made Simple for information on a variety of senior topics.