Thirty-five percent of adults over 45 have reported feeling lonely, according to research from the AARP Foundation.
This problem is especially prevalent with seniors. As we grow older, it’s not easy to forge new relationships. Without children, work, and other regular social activities, the number of new people we encounter can dwindle.
However, that doesn’t mean that making new friends is impossible — it might just take a bit of extra effort. We’ve broken down the best place to start when it comes to expanding your social circle below.
Admit that You Want to Focus On Your Social Life
For the experts at Over Sixty, admitting that you want more relationships in your life is the first step. It’s hard to make changes to your habits and routines, and oftentimes seniors don’t realize how much their social circle has dwindled. Having friends is incredibly important, but can be difficult to admit that you don’t have as many as you’d like. Being lonely isn’t a character flaw, but it’s something that we should try to do something about — humans are social creatures and we need interaction to feel happy and fulfilled.
As a senior, you need to work hard to forge new relationships. This means taking the initiative and putting yourself out there. Seniors Matter suggests starting with your current network. Do you know your neighbors? What about any old friends that you’ve fallen out of touch with? These are great places to start. Reach out to the other members of your community, and don’t be afraid to make the first move — inviting others over for coffee or out to dinner.
Friendship Tip: When you invite people over for coffee or lunch, encourage them to bring their own friends, too, so you can automatically meet additional new people. Social circle — expanded!
Strengthen Family Bonds
Strengthening your family bonds is another great way to expand your social circle. If you have family that lives close by, get in touch with them and set up a weekly coffee meeting or lunch date. Even if your family lives far away, it’s still possible to strengthen your bonds with a weekly phone call or FaceTime session.
Friendship Tip: Have an honest conversation with your family member about the way you’re feeling, and they’ll be delighted to spend more time with you.
Join a Club or Organization
Clubs and organizations are great ways to meet other people — and many members will be interested in the same things you are, which automatically gives you something to talk about! Try a book club for a hobby that gives you something to do in the off-time if you’re struggling to fill your days, or choose a group with an activity, such as exercise or community service, for a sense of community and a weekly meeting.
Friendship Tip: If you’re struggling to figure out where to start, talk to friends and family members. They may be part of an organization already that they could introduce you to — which means that you won’t have to go to that first meeting alone.
Check Out Online Dating
Due to death and divorce, many seniors find themselves without a partner — which means that there’s a large pool of available seniors looking for companionship, according to Vineyard Bluffton’s experts. Dating sites have plenty of benefits, including:
- Safety measures so you can feel comfortable about who you meet.
- Access to like-minded individuals who like the same things that you like.
- The ability to try multiple sites and gain access to a whole host of different people.
- The ability to really get to know someone before meeting or going on a date — when you communicate via messenger or FaceTime, you can set your own pace and vet potential partners.
Friendship Tip: There are plenty of great dating sites to try, and Vineyard Bluffton included a list with their article.
Be A Good Friend
Bolstering your old friendships while you make new ones is crucial, according to Seniors Matter. Talk to your friends, and when they respond, make sure that you’re listening. Pay attention to what’s going on in their lives, and make an effort on birthdays and holidays. Friendships, just like life, often give back to you what you put into them, so make sure that you don’t neglect your current friends in pursuit of those new ones.
Making friends as a senior is difficult, but with these tips (and a bit of chutzpah), you’ll kick your loneliness in no time at all.