two friends talking on a couch

My grandparents spent all of their time together. Especially during the final months of my grandfather’s cancer, they were never apart. My grandparents were constant companions and best friends, and I worried when my grandfather passed away that my grandmother would suffer from loneliness and even depression. While she surely experienced those feelings to some degree, I was impressed by how active and happy she still seemed after the loss of my grandpa. Looking back, I attribute this largely to the support of her wide network of family and friends. Over the years, my grandmother had built up a large number of neighbors and friends who could be there to support her while her family was physically far away.

Especially as we age, friends create a vital source of support and companionship. Seniors with stronger social networks have decreased risk of stress and depression. Studies of elderly women show that those with a large group of social connections are less likely to have dementia and more likely to have better cognitive function than those with small networks. Friends are good for our health, physically and emotionally. However, many seniors lose friends as they age and move around, and making friends after 60 can be trickier than it was at 20. But building new friendships doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are a few places to start your search:

1. Senior centers

Regularly participating in a senior center is one of the simplest ways to meet people your age who live nearby. If you can’t make frequent visits, you may consider asking for the dates of major activities, like dances and group outings, and attending the activities that interest you.

2. Clubs

Part of making friends is simply spending time together regularly. Local clubs (Sierra Club, Rotary Club, etc.) offer opportunities to participate in rewarding activities on a scheduled basis and to make friends who are interested in getting together more frequently.

3. Religious groups

Many religious groups hold regular activities and services. Participating in a church group or religious congregation can help you meet people of various ages who share your values and beliefs.

4. Neighbors

Making friends with your neighbors, regardless of their age, is a good idea. There’s safety in having someone nearby looking out for you, and proximity makes the relationship easy to keep up. Stopping by their house with a plate of cookies or inviting them over for dinner is usually all it takes to get the relationship started.

5. Exercise groups

Joining an exercise group can help you stay in shape and make friends at the same time. It’s also a helpful way to find a support group as you work to stay healthy.

6. Classes

It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Whether it’s cooking, pottery, or scuba diving, the process of learning together makes forming friendships easy.

7. Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and to get to know people with a similar desire to get out and serve.

 

Friends bring value to all stages of life, particularly as we grow older. The support and comradery not only keeps us healthier, but it makes life happier and more enjoyable as well.