If you’ve ever observed small children at the park, you know how effortlessly friendships are formed. A small group might be playing a game, and a newcomer runs over with a breathless, “Can I play?” More often than not, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and thus – instant friends.
If only it were that simple as adults! Friendships offer a wealth of benefits, and are particularly important for older adults following any kind of COVID-related isolation requirements. So how can seniors meet new friends and increase socialization? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of hide-and-seek, try these strategies:
- Join a club. Brainstorm topics of interest together with your family member: knitting, reading, gardening, fishing, sports. Then, search online for groups in your area that meet to enjoy those activities together. The neighborhood senior center might be a terrific resource as well. In the event that you can’t find an already-established group, consider establishing one of your own!
- Take a class. Community colleges often offer reduced-cost (or no-cost) classes for older adults. Browse through an online listing of courses to find one or more that trigger the older adult’s interest and sign up. Don’t forget to consider health and fitness classes too! An assortment of fitness programs tailored especially to seniors 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, religious organizations are a great option to both build friendships and faith, often offering weekday study groups and programs as well as 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, whatever the interest, there is likely a virtual version available!
Once engaging in new activities such as these, it can still be challenging to understand how to bridge the gap from an acquaintance to a friend. Help the senior keep in mind that more than likely, everybody else in the room is feeling exactly the same self-consciousness and trepidation to varying degrees. With those playground children in mind, encourage the older adult to make the first move to start a friendly, pleasant conversation. Sometimes all it takes is one person fearless enough to break the ice to kick off an enduring friendship!
Our caregiving companions are fantastic friends for seniors too! We meticulously match each person with a caregiver who shares a similar personality type and interests, resulting in a quick and strong bond between the two. Contact us online or call us at 919-426-7522 for a no cost in-home consultation to get started with Raleigh area companion care (or care wherever your loved one lives in the Triangle!