fbpx

Social life for Seniors

Socializing for Seniors: How to Make Meaningful Connections at Any Age

It’s really important to have friends, but it is also really hard to make and keep friends as an adult. As we grow older, it doesn’t get any easier. We may have to make a special effort to make connections with people. Having connections with other people makes that effort worth it. So, how do you make friends as an active ager?

Get Out There

You are not going to make friends or have connections if you stay home all the time. A certain amount of alone time is necessary, but to make friends you have to make an effort to get out of the house. Even just a walk around the block or a walk to a park would be a great place to start. Smile at people and say hello.

Getting a pet dog is another way to get out because the dog needs to be walked. Other dog owners and dog lovers on the street will stop to talk with you.

You can also try out activities. Find an exercise class for active agers. Or look for a group of people that shares your interest. There are book clubs, knitting groups, community gardens, origami groups, and more. If you have an interest, there is probably a group of other people who share that interest and they might want to meet about it.

Just going to a community center or senior center is one way to get out among other people. Find some of these places in your community.

There are also online apps to meet friends like meetup.com and bumble bff.

But you need to do more than just get out among other people. You have to talk with them and really be mindful about making a connection. There are some important things to take into consideration when doing this.

Be Yourself

You want to make a genuine connection with someone, so don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Of course, we want to put our best foot forward when we are meeting someone new, but don’t take that to an extreme. Don’t just agree with what someone is saying just to keep things conflict-free. You want to smile and be welcoming, but if you really don’t feel like smiling – don’t. If you don’t a gree with someone, just say that without being confrontational. You don’t have to agree on everything to be friends. A real relationship that provides the kind of connection that makes you feel good and be healthy is an honest one between two people who share their real selves.

Share something about what you are interested in or something you have done recently. Tell a story about yourself and invite the other person to tell their story.

Respect the other person’s boundaries. Don’t hug them if they don’t want to be hugged. If they don’t want to talk about something don’t push – move on to a different topic. 

You can give the other person honest compliments. Everyone likes to be complimented! Just don’t overdo it or you will sound insincere. Give them honest feedback, and take their honest feedback to heart.

Reference something you talked about the last time you saw them. You could ask how their visit with their children went or how their doctor’s appointment went if you talked about that the last time you met. Send them an email with a cat video if they mentioned they like cats. Or recommend a book you think they would like.

You can do a favor for someone and that will cause them to be grateful to you. Or you could ask them to do a small favor for you. People like to feel needed and to have their skills valued. 

If you’ve talked with someone a few times, you might want to invite them for a low key time together. Going out for coffee or lunch, taking a walk, or going to a movie, or show, are great ways to deepen a friendship.

Listen

Even more important than talking is listening. Don’t interrupt them when they talk. You might try repeating back to them what they just said in your own words. It could feel awkward at first, but practice this on people you already know. It’s a great technique for showing the person that they are being heard.

Avoid leading questions, where you think you already know the answer. Instead of “Didn’t you just love that movie?” ask “What did you think of that movie?”

Also avoid ye/s no questions.  If the answer is just yes, or no, then that could be a conversation stopper.  Instead, ask open-ended questions. Find the things you have in common and build on that. Instead of “Do you like gardening?” ask “”What kind of outdoor activities do you like?”

You can use the FORD method to come up with topics for conversation. FORD stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. Ask the person questions about these topics and you might get to know them better. Then, with follow up questions and some sharing from you on these topics, you can begin a friendship.

Give It Time

Good friendships take time. Make sure you nurture your friendships. Make yourself available and don’t cancel on plans with your new friends if you can possibly help it. Each attempt at making a new friend might not work out. You have to always be open to making new friends. So keep trying!

At SeniorThrive! We want to be there for you. We’ll provide you with the support you need to nurture new friendships.

Tags

Related Posts ...

Skip to content