For many of us, forming firm friendships in childhood was as simple as calling over the back fence to neighbours of the same age, or bonding with whoever was sitting next to you in the classroom over the terrors of a cranky teacher. In adulthood however, and especially in retirement, maintaining old friendships and making new friends can suddenly feel like an insurmountable challenge. As we grow older, our lives and lifestyles change. We might move away from our community, stop participating in certain activities, or stop frequenting those natural social environments such as workplaces as we move into retirement.
Most of us enjoy the feeling of being socially connected and apart from making us happy, research has shown that experiencing friendship and connection can lower blood pressure and spikes of the stress hormone cortisol, guard against the onset of depressive symptoms, and assist in achieving a good night’s sleep. Interestingly, Friends for Good, an Australian non-for-profit organisation tackling loneliness in the community, also found that of the people they worked with who considered themselves somewhat socially isolated, only 1 in 5 could identify any way to make steps to be more connected.
But making new friends after 60 might not be as difficult as you think. Let’s explore four ways to broaden your friendship group in your retirement years.
Join a Club
One of the easiest ways to find like-minded folk is to join a club or group based on your interests. Do you have a hobby you like to dabble in or a sport that gets you going? It might be worth investigating whether there are any groups already established in your local area. Public libraries can be a great source of information about activities in the community and often hold workshops, seminars and social groups based around interests such as technology, genealogy, and various crafts. Most clubs have an online presence, so searching on Google with a phrase such as “chess club near me”, or your choice of club, could lead you to your new besties. If you can’t find a group that suits your particular passion, consider starting one yourself.
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that meeting up socially online is now a commonplace occurrence for many. As well as connecting face-to-face via apps like Facetime, Skype, and Zoom, there are plenty of online communities that can open the door to new friendships with people from across the globe. One example is Stitch, an online community specifically for people aged over 50 years, that allows members to join discussions, find events and activities near them, and connect with others with similar interests. Don’t worry if going online seems daunting at first. Stitch is designed to be easy to use and has help available every step of the setup process. It is also free to join, which makes trying it out stress-free.
Put Your Hand Up
Volunteering is not only a great way to maintain skills and give back to the community, but also the perfect way to meet some new faces. There are plenty of organisations and community groups that could do with an extra pair of hands, and you can discover the type of volunteer position that suits your particular skills and interests at Volunteering Australia. But if you are looking to make friends, why not consider volunteering with that purpose in mind? The Red Cross Community Visitors Scheme is one that links volunteers with people who are experiencing social isolation for regular catch-ups. There’s some truth to the old saying, “to have a friend, you have to be a friend”.
Start Where You Are
One of the best ways to make new social connections is to explore your own neighbourhood. Get to know your neighbours, take your furry friend for a run in the local dog park, or check community noticeboards and online groups to find out what is happening in your area and whether there are events or activities that you could attend. You are likely to find many opportunities in your local area to make new friends and expand your social circle once you start to investigate.
Join a friendly retirement community
Living in a community designed to create and nurture friendships for people over 60 is a sure way to form quality connections. These communities cater specifically to retirees, organising a wide range of social activities daily, including excursions, celebrations, games, concerts, and fashion parades, just to name a few. Not only that, but they often have facilities to enjoy such as pools, bars, restaurants, movie theatres, and hairdressing salons, ideal for meeting and catching up with new friends.
Book a tour today to see for yourself how our TriCare Retirement Living Communities can create a rich social life for you!