Making new friends gets more difficult as we grow older. Retirement, moving to a new city, or the death of a spouse can all lead to feelings of isolation, and the older we are, the fewer friends we tend to have. There comes a point when many of your friends have passed and you might feel all alone, especially if your family live a long way away.
Having strong social connections is important for both mental and physical health, however, so it’s worth trying to make new friends. The good news is that it’s never too late, even in your 70s, 80s or beyond!
Don’t Sit at Home All Day
Try and get out a few times a week so you’re not stuck staring at the TV every day. Make an effort to do new things, such as taking a class, or shopping at a new grocery store in a different part of town. Chance encounters are great for making new friends, if you are open to striking up conversations with people you meet.
Try New Activities
Look for classes or clubs that sound fun. For example, if you enjoy cooking, take a cooking class. If you like books, join a book club. Trying new activities gives you a chance to meet like-minded people. Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done before – it can be a fun way to challenge yourself.
Volunteering is a rewarding way to help others while expanding your social circle. Animal shelters, food banks, museums, schools and hospitals often need volunteers. You’ll meet people with similar values and have a shared purpose. Volunteering also keeps you engaged and gives you a sense of purpose.
Be a Regular
If you frequent a gym, coffee shop, library, place of worship, bar or other locale, make an effort to talk to the staff and other regulars each time you visit. They’ll start to recognize you and conversations will begin to flow naturally. Having gathering places you regularly visit helps form casual friendships.
Connect with Neighbors
Say hello to neighbors when you see them outside or in the hallway of your senior apartments. Have brief, friendly interactions and use their name when you can. If you’re comfortable, you could even invite a neighbor you click with over for coffee or a drink. Proximity makes neighbors ideal potential friends.
Join a Group
There are so many special interest groups to join these days. Search online for local groups related to hobbies, sports, games, books, culture or other interests of yours. Joining a group gives you a shared activity and topic of conversation with other members. Most groups welcome new members.
The internet offers several options for making friends later in life. Join forums, social media groups or alumni platforms based on your interests to connect with like-minded people. There are also sites specifically for making friends as a senior. While online friendships lack physicality, they can fill a social void.
The most important thing is to put yourself out there and be open to new connections. Avoid relying solely on your existing social circle. Making new friends takes initiative, courage and patience, but it’s worth the effort. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to expanding your social world.