Senior living can invigorate your social life
Do you remember the delicious friendships of your youth? Huddling under the front porch, sharing secrets and talking sports with your best buddy, or, later, walking arm in arm down the street, talking about boys and life, with someone who was dearer to you than a sister?
Nothing can put a spark in your day (not to mention a boost in your health) like hanging out with someone who shares your passions and offers a warm heart and a listening ear. But just as life brings highs, it too can bring lows. You may have found that your once robust social circle is starting to diminish. Although you know it’s important to make new friends – even the American Psychological Association urges seniors to fill relationship gaps when they have lost loved ones – you may be puzzled by how to go about making new friends.
Look for friendships in all the right places
To begin with, rid yourself of the idea that making new friends is only for the young—that’s simply one of the many myths about aging. If you still get around easily, you can expand your circle by joining groups or volunteering. Alternately, if you do have mobility issues, moving to a senior living community could be an easier and more effective way to discover (or rediscover) like-minded companions.
Living in a retirement community is a little like being in a college dorm (without the wild frat parties!). It’s an opportunity to regularly mingle with a group of people, and that encourages familiarity and bonding. In these communities, friendships unfold naturally over breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as during group activities. Who knows, you could find a new best friend while knitting hats for a charity, playing Bean Bag Baseball or making music.
Quick tips on making new friends
Still, if you’re on the shy side, you may feel apprehensive about entering a new environment that could potentially make you feel uncomfortable. The trick is to remember that you’ve encountered many new situations before – everything from your first day of school to your first job – and you came out the other side, feeling like you belonged. Also, take into account that the residents and the staff at senior living communities are a pretty friendly bunch, so it might not take you long to adjust at all.
Here are a few tips to mull over:
- Don’t put pressure on yourself by expecting too much too soon. Start by making acquaintances, sharing on a deeper and more personal level when you truly feel comfortable.
- Follow your interests and passions. By joining groups that appeal to your interests, you will be more likely to connect with like-minded people.
- Consider attending a few social functions that may not have immediately appealed to you. Sometimes it can do you good just to get out and be with people—and you never know with whom you might bond with at these events.
- If you are an animal lover (and if the community allows pets), think about adopting a dog. Take a jack russell or a yorkie out for a walk, and you’re almost guaranteed there’ll be no shortage of people coming over and making chit chat!
- When you have settled in, look over the activities calendar and find some fun things to do throughout the week.
- If you’re game for taking a small social risk, ask residents you’d like to know better to drop by your apartment for tea or to watch a movie.
- Offer to be there when another resident needs a little support.
How to cope if you’re an introvert
Even if you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of being in groups all the time, a senior living community can still be a great fit, largely because you’re free to participate how and when you like. Don’t worry, you can retreat to your apartment anytime you’ve had enough socializing! Also, keep in mind that many communities offer small targeted groups like book clubs, knitting circles or crafting groups that might feel more comfortable for you than large social events or dances.
In the end, you’ll feel more relaxed and less self-conscious once you find out who shares your interests and your sense of humor. Before long you’ll be swapping stories around the dining room table or enjoying a laugh in the living room with the gang. And soon the day will come when you realize you’ve recaptured some of the sweetness you found in friendships of your younger years.
Want to find out even more of the benefits of living in a retirement community and find friends waiting for you there? Discover more about one of Holiday Retirement’s senior living communities near you or a loved one.