Making Friends as a Senior Adult
Want to live longer? Make close friends. Harvard researchers have found that loneliness is detrimental to your health. The study also suggests that strong and committed relationships lead to a longer life and better mental acuity.
Making friends can feel daunting at any age – but especially in retirement. Without the advantage of school or work, friendships may take some extra effort on our part.
That’s okay – real friends are worth the effort. Read on to find our tips to get out of your comfort and expand your social circle.
Start With the Right Attitude
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Attitude is everything.” The same is true for making friends.
A positive attitude is far more likely to attract friends than a negative one.
Dr. Marisa Franco takes that idea one step further. In her book, “Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends,” Dr. Franco writes that we should assume that people like us – and they probably will.
She believes we will discover that “people are actually really open to friendship.”
We wholeheartedly agree. Positive self-talk is a great place to start.
Find Common Ground
Group activities like fitness classes, movie nights, and religious services are a great way to meet like-minded people. At Senior Star, each one of our communities has a monthly calendar filled with a variety of activities, programs and outings.
Try something new or revisit an activity you used to love.
Starting a conversation may feel less intimidating when you are in a group and focused on a shared activity or passion.
Whether you are at an event or out on a stroll, a smile shows you are open to conversation. Our body language is one way that we can convey we are happy to be there and interested in others.
Smiling at strangers may feel awkward at first, but you’d be surprised by how many interactions just need a little encouragement. Try giving a grin to the cashier or a nod to a neighbor.
When You Meet Someone You Like, Make it Obvious
Much like in dating, letting someone know you like them — and knowing they like you back — is a big part of making new friends.
Research shows that we tend to like people who like us. Compliment a friend on their sense of humor.
Chances are, the feeling is mutual. But you won’t know until you make the first move.
When you boil it down, friendship takes time.
Researchers from the University of Kansas found that it takes between 40 and 60 hours to form a casual friendship and even more to develop a close-knit relationship.
Be patient. Friendship takes both time and effort.
Don’t Hesitate to Initiate
Make sure you are allocating even a small part of your day to developing and maintaining friendships, old and new. Send a text, make a phone call, send a note, or make plans to see your friend in person.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that people don’t want to do something with you. In reality, lots of people have a hard time making plans. Friendship takes effort and coordination.
Instead of making vague plans, suggest something to do together and a date to do it. Try saying, “Would you like to go on a walk on Thursday afternoon?” or “I’d love to meet for coffee next week if you are free.”
Friends In Every Season of Life
Friends, old and new, are something to cherish. They can bring us great joy and comfort at any age.
As seniors, we have the wisdom and experience to be great friends. Plus, unlike the hectic years of raising kids, we have the time to slow down and savor truly great friendship.
Take advantage of the time and space we have in retirement to develop new friendships.
Are you looking for a welcoming community where you can build relationships and thrive? Senior Star offers a wealth of opportunities to meet others and engage with those around you. In addition to our friendly residents, you’ll find warm and caring staff who take an interest in you and what’s important to you.
Check out our ebook: 5 Signs of a Stellar Assisted Living Community.
Questions about senior living? Contact us to learn more.