The world changes when you are in your 60s. Your social context as a parent, spouse and co-worker undergo a change. The long-term friends also seem to move on with their own routines and schedules. At this time, it might seem like an uphill task to make new friends, especially if you have moved away from your old living situation into an assisted living facility or a nursing home. There are no longer any accidental connections that are made so we need to make a deliberate effort to make friends after 60. As seniors we need to take action to stay social and enjoy the best years of our lives.
If you were to follow the tenets of Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to win friends & Influence people” then you need to follow these steps to make a new friend
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely.
- Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Talk in terms of the others person’s interests.
If being so clinical and organised isn’t your strength then you need to consider the below suggestions to get your started on a new era of friendship.
We are social creatures
Loneliness is one of the biggest factors affecting senior citizens health. It is important for us to stay connected to people, not just family but also friends. We need to first admit to ourselves that friendships are important at every stage and when one is a senior citizen and living in new conditions, it’s more important. Seniors are a different breed of independent persons. So, it’s a matter of using this independence and making new friends in every new situation. You might pick up a few frenemies along the way but without them life wouldn’t be entertaining.
Friends are important
Make friends a priority. Choose your friends wisely because now you have a world of experience and set interests. You cannot change your habits now so find people who complement them or have similar tastes. So, think of what kind of friends you would like to make and try to gravitate towards that group of people.
Get out more
Being more social will also force you to break the routine and get out a little more. It may be to a park, a new restaurant, a place of worship or just outside your home for a stroll. You may be a bit hesitant initially to try new things but once you get across that threshold you will make friends easily. If you are invited to meet-ups, make the effort to go, attend workshops or join people for a cup of coffee.
Where can you find friends?
If you are living in an assisted living community, you can take part in the meet up activities they might organise. If there is a common room or area where people congregate daily, try and walk in and start a conversation or join a workshop that you have been looking forward to being part of. Try and sign-up for new classes frequently so that you have something to look forward to. Volunteering is also a good way to meet new people who might have the same interests as you.
Confidence is key when you are trying to make new friends. Our life experiences have shaped us and we are more capable of developing meaningful relationships after 60. We make more mature decision on who we want to spend out time with.