“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other is gold.”
Most of us have heard this classic jingle that teaches the importance of building lasting friendships. However, for many senior adults, the thought of creating new relationships can be daunting.
Geographic relocations, loss of friends and spouses, and changing health conditions can all cause the idea of making friends feel like an arduous task perhaps not worth the effort. Staying comfortable within the familiar “party of one” can understandably seem the easiest thing to do when put in a new situation.
Even so, studies show that social interaction and companionship offer as many lasting health benefits for senior adults as regular physical activity. If friendship is such a vital component to both long-term health and quality of life, how can senior adults take the jump to build friendships later in life?
This article from Next Avenue, a leading media voice for senior adults, lists seven ways to build friendships at a later age. For seniors moving into a new community, these tips can prove particularly beneficial during the first weeks and months in their new home.
1. Don’t expect too much too soon.
Friendships at any age take time, so don’t expect to be best buddies with your new neighbors right away. Start with a friendly attitude and go from there.
2. Look broadly.
You never know where you might find friends, so be ready to strike up a conversation with fellow residents in the wellness center, dining room or activity spaces.
3. Share something of yourself emotionally.
People are usually more ready to share their lives if they know you can empathize with them. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
4. Follow your interests.
One of the fastest ways to make friends is bonding through similar interests. Start attending scheduled events that interest you to find people with similar passions.
5. Be consistent.
Developing a routine for activities and meal times can help people learn to look for you. Plus, many other residents have routines too into which new friendships can easily fit.
6. Rekindle an old friendship.
It’s not unusual for people like June and Peggy to reconnect unexpectedly at a senior living community. Be on the lookout for past connections, or even invite old friends to join you for a visit to your new home.
7. Be a friend when someone needs it.
It could be as simple as sitting and listening to someone’s story or baking a birthday cake, but one of the best ways to make lasting friends is to be a friend during both the good times and bad.
At Buckner, residents often see each other as more than friends. They’re family. Whether you’re brand new to a community or have been with us for 15 years, sometimes all it takes is one small step to make a new lifelong friend.