It can be challenging to make new friends in life’s later stages. The pipeline of connections often dwindles, with friends and family moving away or passing on, and natural workplace camaraderie replaced by the more solitary pace of retirement. In fact, our senior years can be among the loneliest, even posing significant health risks for some — especially when you’re not in a senior living community. If you or someone you know is struggling with new beginnings, here are some ideas to help take that first step:
- Remember You’re Not Alone. As the poet Yeats once said, “There are no strangers here – only friends you haven’t met yet.” Don’t assume you’re the only one looking around; it’s far more likely there are others like you who are quietly hoping someone will make the first move.
- Follow Your Passions. Finding people who share your interests is a great start to making connections. Are you an avid reader or cook? Love to garden, or follow the stars? Look around for classes or groups to join, either at your local COA or senior center, or through a continuing education program. Chances are good that you’ll meet people with similar interests whom it might feel more natural getting to know.
- Got Faith? Churches and synagogues are other communities that offer easy ways for members to meet others similar in age or life experience (think Widows and Widowers groups, senior coffee hours, etc).
- Hit the Road! If you have the means and inclination to travel, check out the many wonderful touring companies that cater to seniors. Elder Treks and Road Scholar are among the best – and many college alumni associations sponsor trips as well. The highs and lows of traveling together can forge deep connections that last long after you’re back home.
- Log On. Over half of Internet users 55+ have a Facebook page, and for good reason. Aside from making it easy to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, Facebook has become a popular way for seniors to make plans and organize get-togethers.
- Punch In. If you’re able and have skills to share, consider taking a part-time job even a few hours a week. Retirees are choosing to head back to work in record numbers; so chances are you’d be in good company.
- Lend A Hand. If your days of working for pay are behind you, consider volunteering in a field close to your heart. These gigs are usually pretty flexible, and they’re another great way to put you among people who share your values and outlook. Senior Corps is one of several great organizations that match seniors 55+ with causes they believe in.
For more ideas on making senior connections, head to Sixty and Me. Or if you’d like to explore the social connections a senior living community can provide vs the benefits of staying home, explore your choices in our Stay or Go Guide.