Author of post Randi Mazzella

senior citizens, assisted living, eldercare, aging, friendship

Tips for Making Friends When You’re Older

03.21.2018

One of the main reasons my mother-in-law decided to move to an adult living community was the possibility of making new friends. Having retired from her job several years before, she missed the daily contact and socialization that came naturally when she was worked in an office. In addition, many of her longtime friends and neighbors no longer lived in the area.

 

Making friends when you are older can be challenging. Here are some suggestions on how to make new friends when you are older:

  • Be Friendly Simply smiling and having a positive attitude is usually all it takes to win over new people. Be an active listener and try to learn about the new person rather than just talking about yourself. If possible, avoid complaining, especially about ailments or family issues. Everyone has something in their life that they are unhappy about. Instead, be positive and outgoing; people will appreciate your good spirits and want to find out more about you.
  • Ask Open-Ended but Non-Invasive or Combative Questions: In general, most people like to talk about themselves. Avoid starting conversations with a new person about hot bed topics like religion or politics. Instead ask simpler, benign questions such as, “What’s the best movie you have seen this year?” It’s a great way to find out more about their likes and dislikes. Once you know them better, you can delve into more personal and important topics but in the beginning it’s best to start out slow and cautious. Be careful not to share your own opinions too quickly on controversial issues.
  • Join Groups:  From book clubs to exercise classes, there are many ways to meet new people in an adult community. Choose classes that you find appealing, so you can connect with other people that share similar interests.
  • Try New Things: It’s true; you are never too old to try something new. If you have always wanted to learn how to play bridge but never had the time to do so, now you do. Don’t worry about your skill level. Be honest about your experience and ability. Most people will be happy to teach a newcomer the rules and learning new skills keeps your mind active. And if you have a skill such as being an expert knitter, be willing to share your knowledge and teach others who are interested in learning.
  • Attend Religious Services:  If you enjoy going to religious services, it is another good way to meet people that share your spiritual interests. Many places of worship offer adult education classes, guest lectures and volunteer opportunities all of which can be good ways to make friends.
  • Invite People to a Meal or Drink: My mother in law’s community has a dining room where residents have a monthly allowance to spend on food and drinks. It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people. If sitting down to a whole meal with a new person feels stressful, how about suggesting meeting up for a glass of wine or cup of tea?
  • Check out Local Community Events: My own parents have made several new friends by attending programs at their local library. It’s a good way to meet people beyond those residents that live solely in their adult community. Since you are all there to enjoy the same event, you already have something in common that you can talk about.
  • Don’t Let Go of Old Friendships: Just because you are meeting tons of new people doesn’t mean you need to totally give up your old friends. There is nothing like the connection of having a shared history and you can never have too many friends. Maybe think about introducing old and new friends especially if they have interests in common.
  • Be Open to Friends of All Ages: Don’t rule out a friendship just because someone is a lot older or younger than you are. In school, kids tend to have friends that are around the same age. But as we get older, age becomes less of a factor than shared interests. A friend from a different generation can share a new perspective and open your mind to a new way of looking at things. 

     

     

     

    Just like when you were younger, it can feel intimidating to walk over to a group of people that seem to know each other and introduce yourself. But while it might be scary to put yourself out there, understand that making new friends as an older adult can be life-enhancing.



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Randi Mazzella

Randi Mazzella is freelance writer and blogger. Her work has appeared in many publications Parent.com, Grown and Flown, The Fine Line and The Spruce. She draws inspiration from her life with her husband and three children. To read more of her work, go to randimazzella.com or follow her on twitter @randimazzella.