Retirement comes with a certain irony; now that you have time to check off your bucket list goals, you may not have a large friend group to share your experiences. For some, it becomes more challenging to make and keep friends with age. That’s particularly true after retirement because the workplace is where we most commonly meet people and form friendships.
The Problem with Fading Social Connections
A study done by the Stanford Center on Longevity showed that the boomer generation is the most disengaged from traditional in-person social networks. Research also shows that 40% of adults over 60 regularly experience loneliness.
We know that isolation and loneliness are depressing; they also negatively impact your mental and physical health. The adverse effects of loneliness can be on par with obesity, smoking, and heart disease.
Here’s the good news, expanding your social circle and building your social connections in your old years is entirely doable.
9 Tips For Build Your Circle
How do you find fulfilling new friendships and reconnect with old friends?
1. Use Technology
Technology can be intimidating, especially if you’re still a computer and cell phone novice. But the way things are now, it’s expected that you meet someone new online before meeting in person. Fortunately, numerous apps can help you establish platonic social connections with people who have shared interests.
Here are three good online options for finding new friends.
NextDoor connects the people in your neighborhood. You’ll often find postings about wanting to find new friends exclusively around specific types of activities or interests.
Meetup helps people meet new people, find support, and get out of their comfort zone. With Meetup, everyone is looking for the same thing, like-minded people to pursue their passions together.
Friender matches people in your area who share your interests.
2. Connect with Old Friends
It’s not unusual to lose touch with your social circle upon retirement or when moving to downsize. Many of your older friends may be in a similar situation and looking to reconnect.
Social media apps like Facebook can be handy; type in the name of someone you’d like to reconnect with and where they were born. You’ll be surprised by the number of friends from the past that may emerge.
Whether you prefer delivering meals, mentoring teens, or fostering dogs, there’s no shortage of worthy non-profits that can use your help. And while you’re making a positive impact with your community, you will be making a positive impact on yourself.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to meet like-minded people. Getting out and volunteering also has the added benefits of helping your physical health, getting you moving, and helping boost a more positive attitude. You’ll meet precisely the kind of people who make good friends.
4. Join a Club
Another avenue for building meaningful relationships in your senior years – and a chance to take up a new hobby – is through joining a club.
Find a group in your community that shares a physical or intellectual activity you
enjoy. Golf or tennis memberships allow you to play while meeting other members.
Find a book club through your local library if you’re an avid reader. Book clubs are an excellent way to meet new people with similar interests and offer a shared point of discussion you can use to start new friendships.
5. Take or Teach a Class
Many community colleges, museums, and art schools have educational programs. The options may surprise you: languages, photography, pottery, painting, even ballroom dancing.
What’s more, learning a new skill, teaching others what you’re an expert in, or exploring your artistic side challenges your brain and helps prevent cognitive decline as you age.
In particular, creating art and art classes are linked to mental benefits like improved reasoning, memory, and resilience.
6. Establish a Schedule
One of the reasons that clubs are effective at helping people make friends is that there is a schedule to follow. When you find a potential new friend, develop a regular routine for seeing them: Saturday hikes, Sunday service, Monday yoga, Wednesday mah-jongg, every other week explore a new restaurant, anything, and everything works. The key is to meet regularly and keep in touch to build friendships.
7. Consider Relocating to an Active Adult Community
Active adult communities are planned neighborhoods where everything, including the homes, are designed for older adults – and they are teeming with amenities such as clubhouses, pools, fitness centers, trails, and restaurants. Everyone is in a similar place in their lives – relocating and downsizing after retirement and looking to expand their social circle. You can typically find many classes and activities that encourage you to meet your neighbors and make new friends.
8. Be a Good Friend Yourself
Having fulfilling friendships requires you to be a good friend yourself.
A friend is there when they are needed. A friend asks questions and listens to answers, and tries to understand.
Although things aren’t always happy, a friend is fun to be around, has a sense of humor, and offers goodwill, support, and cheer. Be reliable, trustworthy, and dependable. If you make plans to see a friend, honor that commitment even if you don’t feel like going out that day.
Staying engaged and finding the courage to get outside your comfort zone takes confidence. When you feel confident, you feel good about yourself and are much more likely to reach out to others.
Now, there’s nothing more confidence-killing than forgetting someone’s name, forgetting appointments, or struggling to get the right words out. If that’s happening to you more and more, getting back to a good memory can lead to you feeling more confident in your new friendship-making endeavors.
Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Brain contains cognition-enhancing ingredients like Bacopa, Choline, and Huperzine-A shown in studies to help improve your memory. It also has a complete panel of vitamins and minerals specially blended to keep your brain well-nourished and clear.
With the help of Dynamic Brain, you won’t worry so much about getting names and places wrong, so you can enjoy your new friendships more.