22 Aug Making Friends After 65
Making friends after 65 can be challenging. After all, the ways in which you previously met friends–usually at work or your children’s school–most likely have now changed. At the same time, many of your established friends may have moved to another area or state after retirement. Furthermore, older adults also become more selective about friends. They simply enjoy being alone more and prefer to have less contact with others.
However, maintaining friendships throughout every stage of life is important—especially for seniors. In fact, experts say having healthy, fun, and positive connections and social outlets as we age is vital to our emotional and physical health.
Friends may also extend your lifespan. In a 2010 research study (conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University in Utah) concludes that people with strong social relationships can increase their chance of survival, over a certain time period, by 50 percent. In addition, the study says that being lonely and isolated can be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.
How to Make Friends as an Older Adult
- Go online. The internet can open up a whole new way to meet friends. For example, Meetup is a website which connects people with shared interests to face-to-face Meetup groups in your local area. There are hundreds of group available sure to meet any interest including hiking, creative writing, Sunday brunch, poetry readings, nature photography, and Reiki healing. If you don’t find the group you want, you can start your own. Membership is free. Go to: https://www.meetup.com.
- Get a dog. Owning a dog can help alleviate loneliness by creating opportunities for seniors to meet other people and socialize. Whether you are walking a pet in your neighborhood or going to the local park, a dog opens up your social world. The physical and psychological benefits of pet ownership can help keep you both happier and healthier as you age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness.
- Increase your social interactions. Research shows that the more social interactions you have throughout the day can also benefit your health. These interactions don’t have to be strong friendships. By simply exchanging a few words with the person taking your order at the local coffee shop, or chatting briefly with a neighbor at the mailbox, you can increase your chance of living to an advanced age. This is called social integration–how many people we interact with during the day. In her study, Hold-Lunstad concludes that social integration is the number one predictor of living a long life.
- Change your situation. In a 2017 Ted Talks, developmental psychologist Susan Pinker notes that in the Italian island of Sardinia there are more than six times as many centenarians as in the mainland and ten times as many as in North America. She attributes this to the island’s dense housing which makes it easy for family and friends to check on and interact with older members of the community on a daily basis. If you are isolated in your home, it may be time to make a change. Consider moving to an apartment complex or independent senior living community to increase your social interactions and connections.
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