Five Ideas to Help Seniors Make New Friends

June 8, 2015

People need companionship regardless of their age, but changes in health and lifestyle often make socializing difficult. Some seniors are afraid that they won’t be able to connect with anyone. Beyond shyness, often this fear stems from real limitations that need to be worked around. Seniors may experience limited mobility which can greatly reduce their ability to meet up for social events. They may be challenged to find activities in which they can participate. Their reluctance to find new friends may simply be that they are attached to their existing circle of friends and family, a circle which quite often shrinks to just a few as the senior ages. Though reaching outside their comfort zone and overcoming physical challenges may feel like a chore, there are many benefits to socializing and it’s important to make the effort.

Friends are Good for Your Brain

Close relationships with others are vital to your health, self-esteem and even your longevity. In a study of 2,249 California women published in the July American Journal of Public Health, researchers reported that older women who maintained large social networks reduced their risk of dementia and delayed or prevented cognitive impairment.

The study goes on to say that the larger the social network, the less likely the women were to develop cognitive issues than those will smaller social groups. The basic idea is that the more interactions seniors have, the more their brains are stimulated.

In contrast, a lack of socialization and friends can lead to negative consequences, such as sadness and depression, increase anxiety and stress, and less activity impacting overall physical wellness.    

Five Ideas to Help Seniors Make New Friends

  1. The first thing seniors need to realize is that most people are looking for a new friend. Sure, nobody’s walking around carrying a “Will you be my friend?” sign. But there’s no question that other people are looking to make new connections as well. If a person makes an honest effort to connect with their peers, there’s a very good chance that they can form important lifelong bonds with some of them.
  2. Start saying “yes” more often. Even though it’s much easier to stay curled up in front of their favorite TV show or sticking to your daily routine, saying yes to a new experience or opportunity to socialize will increase the chances of meeting new people.
  3. Volunteer your time. Seniors may be well beyond their working years, but there are plenty of opportunities for them to share their time and experience with organizations doing good in the world. Not only is it a fulfilling experience to help a good cause of your choice, but a great chance to “break the ice” meet like minded people.
  4. Join a group. Meetup.com and the AARP online community have groups that focus on every imaginable interest. Again, this provides a segue to meet people with similar interests in your area.
  5. Be willing to take some risks. Not every social activity, or new acquaintance is going to be a perfect fit and that’s okay. Remember, the goal is to meet new people, broaden your experiences and perhaps find new interests that keep things fresh.

Minimal Effort, Maximum Effect

Finding and making new friends is all about exposure, increasing contact being open to new experiences. The more frequently seniors put effort into coming in contact with people, the better shot they have at making friends. These things sound hard, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve put yourself out there, but everything gets a lot easier once you take that first step and say the first hello.

Everyone needs a little help in getting back out there and meeting new friends, and we can help. Our database is filled with senior care options that not only care for daily needs, but also help give your loved ones a new friendship to count on. Take a look at some of the senior care services to find the best fit for you.

About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of MyCareMatch.com and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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