For many of us, it gets harder to make new friends the older we get. Work and family commitments often take priority in adult life, and we may not have enough time for our current friends, much less new ones. However, research has shown that social isolation runs an increased risk of depression due to loneliness, and can deteriorate an individual’s overall well-being.
To combat this, it is encouraged for older adults to maintain their current friendships. It is also a good idea to be open to making new friends and expanding your current social network as new friends would be able to provide vital support for the challenges that come with growing older.
Making friends may feel like a daunting task for an older adult, but it does not have to be! Here are some tips on making friends that older adults can try:
Frequent Local Spots
Pick a place that you enjoy spending time in – a library, cafe, park, or museum – and go there regularly. Eventually, you may start to see familiar faces. This gives you a good opportunity to strike up a conversation with those who are open to a little chat. Good conversation starters include asking them about themselves, what hobbies they have, and if they have grandchildren or not. If the people you talk to frequent these places like you do, you may be on the way to building a friendship! In addition to public spaces, places like the gym, class, or club could prove to be an ideal place for meeting new people as well.
Make the First Move
Going up to a random stranger may sound nerve-wracking at first, but you may be surprised at how receptive some people may be! People tend to like talking about themselves, so be sure to ask them what they enjoy doing, or about their family. Over time, you will surely get more comfortable with initiating conversations. If you find that you are getting along well with them, remember to ask for their contact – an email or phone number – so that you can stay in touch. They may even be open to having a good meal together or a cup of coffee once you have established a friendship, so be sure to invite them out afterward!
Look for Common Interests
Starting a friendship is much easier when you share an interest! As an older adult, you probably already had time to try many experiences and find the ones that you are passionate about. Try to see if they enjoy the same things you do, and plan to engage in common hobbies together in the future once the two of you are comfortable enough with each other. Remember to be yourself at all times, however; it wouldn’t be a fun time if you pretend to be interested in something you are not just to connect with them.
Friends are an important part of any individual’s life. Sometimes, it’s worth the effort of going out of your way to initiate conversations and start a friendship – who knows, you might even find a new best friend.