One positive factor of being a retired senior is having the time to spend with family and friends. One negative factor of being a retired senior is that many of our favorite people are no longer in the local area. Friends may have relocated to other cities or states for employment opportunities or to live closer to family members, or and you may not be seeing coworkers on a daily basis.

Or you may have moved to a retirement community where you are the “new kid on the block” and are looking for ways to meet other people. The good news is that there are many ways that seniors can meet with, connect with, and form meaningful friendships with other people in a similar community. This is even true for seniors living with physical limitations who may need the help of a caregiver or a family member for assistance.

Look at the various ways listed below that help older citizens to meet new people. Select one or two of the suggestions that grab your attention and give them a try. Meeting new people may be awkward at the beginning, but just remember that the new people you meet probably have the same thoughts. You have a lifetime of experiences and skills to share with others and you are never too old to learn something new. Making friends later in life might actually turn out to be one of your memorable adventures.

6 Great Ways to Connect with New People

1.  Senior Centers. Joining a local senior center opens up a world of possibilities. Because the activities at senior centers are designed for older citizens, there will be programs to encourage both the mental and physical well-being of all members. Classes are frequently offered for group exercises, basic computer skills, art workshops, playing cards, entering board game competitions, cooking and baking instructions, weekly or monthly social events, and occasional bus trips to local points of interest. The benefit of visiting a senior center is in knowing that you’ll have social interaction with people in your same age group.

And, with seasonal programming changes, there will always be new opportunities and activities to try. A number of local senior centers are supported by the local government and their programs are free for seniors, while some senior centers may charge a small fee for participation. Ask the center personnel if transportation is available if you are not able to drive to the center or you do not have someone who can take you there.

2.  Gym or Wellness Centers. Exercising is an excellent way to maintain muscle tone, strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercising with other seniors is a great way of interacting with and making friends later in life. You benefit from physical activity while meeting and socializing with new people. These locations often offer seniors a variety of low-impact activity classes such as water aerobics, tai chi, yoga, dance, and wheelchair aerobics. These centers do charge for memberships. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes a SilverSneakers membership, or membership in another fitness program, you may not have to pay a fee to use a participating gym.

3.  Clubs for Seniors. If you have a special interest such as gardening, writing, painting, photography, Mahjong, bridge, golf, bowling, bingo, sewing, or wood carving, you can find a local club that is organized to bring seniors together to talk about or participate in their hobbies. Local libraries may have a listing of reading clubs. If you are comfortable with computers, you can find an online reading group to join.

4.  Walking Groups. If you enjoy morning walks, try joining a walking group that meets in local parks or nature preserves.  During winter weather, you may want to even try mall walking. Some shopping malls unlock their entrances a few hours before their stores are open for business. This is a great way for making friends later in life who enjoy the same early morning strolls as you. Enjoy your morning stroll all year round while engaging in casual conversations with new acquaintances.

5. Volunteer. Volunteering your time with local community organizations is a great way to get out of the house while helping to make a difference. You can volunteer at a senior residence to help other seniors make handicrafts, prepare an afternoon tea, play board games, play cards, put together a puzzle, go for an outside stroll, or read a book for someone with poor eyesight. Some senior residents may not have any visitors and they will enjoy just having you come to chat for a while. Other organizations that welcome volunteers are libraries, thrift shops, soup kitchens, and gift shops at hospitals and museums. You can volunteer with your religious or veteran organization to drive members with mobility problems to their doctor appointments, to walk their pets, to water their plants, or to grocery shop for them.

6.  Invite People to Join a New Group. Organize a sewing circle, a card-playing group, or any other special fun activity and invite a few friends to bring someone new into the group. You have the advantage of being in the comfort of your own environment while making friends later in life. If you do not have the room for large gatherings, propose your group idea to some friends who do have the room and are interested in forming a weekly or monthly meeting.

Bottom Line
Connecting with and making friends later in life gives you the opportunity to stay mentally and physically active. As a senior, you have come in contact with thousands of people throughout your earlier lifetime and you will know when someone new has the qualities you desire in a friend. Use this intuition to widen your circle of friends. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

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