If you have ever watched children at the park, you know how quickly friendships are formed. A small group might be playing tag, and a newcomer runs over with a breathless, “Can I play?” More often than not, the reply is a resounding, “Yes!” and voila – instant friends.
If only it were that easy as adults! Friendships offer a wealth of benefits, and they are especially important for seniors adhering to any sort of COVID-related isolation requirements. So how could you help the older adults you love to boost socialization and make some new friends? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of hide-and-seek, try these strategies for making friends as a senior:
- Join a club. Discuss topics of interest with your family member: knitting, reading, gardening, fishing, sports. Next, search on the internet for groups in your town that meet up to enjoy those activities together. The local senior center could be a terrific resource as well. In the event that you can’t find an already-established group, consider starting one of your own!
- Take a class. Community colleges frequently offer reduced-cost (or no-cost) classes for seniors. Browse through an online list of classes to find several that trigger the older adult’s curiosity, and sign up. Don’t forget to check out physical fitness classes too! Many exercise programs tailored especially to older adults can be found at the local gym or YMCA.
- Attend religious services. Many seniors stayed away from religious services during the pandemic. As it becomes safer to venture out, a great way to build both faith and friendships is through religious organizations. Many often offer weekday programs and study groups in addition to worship services.
- Get involved virtually. There are infinite opportunities to meet others remotely – even more so since the pandemic caused us to think outside of the box. From learning new languages to online games to yoga, no matter what interest, there is likely a virtual version available!
Once engaging in new activities such as these, it may still be difficult to understand how to bridge the gap from an acquaintance to a friend. Help the senior keep in mind that in all likelihood, everyone else in the room is feeling the same self-consciousness and trepidation to some extent. With those playground children in mind, encourage the senior to make the first move to start a friendly, welcoming conversation. Sometimes all it will take is one person courageous enough to break the ice to kick off an enduring friendship! Making friends as a senior might seem challenging, but the rewards are worth it.
Our caregiving companions are wonderful friends for older adults too! We very carefully match each person with a caregiver who shares a similar personality type and interests, resulting in a quick and strong bond between the two. Call our Los Angeles, CA senior care experts at (213) 383-2273 for a free in-home assessment for more information. Visit our Service Area page to see all of the communities where we provide care.