Friends can make life more meaningful at any age. Having a close circle of friends impacts your well-being in ways you might not be aware of—especially as you grow older. From influencing health choices to lending a sympathetic ear during difficult times, senior friendships play a role in determining how long and how well we live.
Research from the Blue Zones, a term that describes the areas of the world where people live the longest, illustrates the value of such relationships. It shows that senior friendships help older adults avoid the dangers associated with isolation, including diabetes, obesity, and depression. Isolation has become a recognized risk factor for early mortality.
Another interesting fact from Blue Zone research is that having a social network committed to a positive lifestyle can encourage you to live a healthier life, too. The opposite is also true. For example, if a close friend is obese, you are 57% more likely to suffer the same fate. Smoking statistics are equally as impactful. If a spouse ceases smoking, you are more likely to do the same.
A challenge many seniors face, however, is that social networks frequently decrease during retirement years. Friends move away to be closer to adult children and grandchildren. Friendships built on work-related interests may fizzle once you retire.
What can you do to build a positive social network during retirement years or help a senior loved one do so?
We have a few ideas you might find helpful for building senior friendships.
Building New Friendships During Retirement
- Join a fitness group or club: What better place is there to meet health-conscious seniors than at a fitness club? Senior friendships can blossom over a Tai Chi class at the senior center or a water aerobics class at the local YMCA. Many fitness clubs also offer discounts for older adults.
- Volunteer for a cause: Connecting over a shared cause is another way to make new friends after retiring. Your local United Way and VolunteerMatch.org are two organizations that can help you or your senior loved one explore volunteer projects.
- Take a class: Learning a new skill can give your brain a boost, whether it is a musical instrument, an art class, or a foreign language. It’s also a good avenue for meeting new friends who share your hobbies and interests. Local botanical gardens, park systems, community colleges, and art museums typically offer community education classes and programs.
- Spiritual organizations: Older adults often find themselves more interested in spiritual pursuits than they were in their younger days. Many churches and synagogues have groups dedicated to older members and their interests. It’s a great opportunity for nurturing the spirit and developing new friendships.
- Join a club: Shared hobbies can also lead to senior friendships. If you’ve always been interested in photography, join a local photography club. Ditto for gardening, dancing, or any other pastime that interests you.
At Vitality Senior Living, we create an environment that allows residents to live with purpose. We provide opportunities for older adults to make vital connections and to bond with peers every day. It leads to a community that is creative and inspiring.
We’d love to show you around and help you learn more. Please call us today to set up a time for a personal visit.