Rediscover the Joy of Socializing: 7 Effective Strategies to Build Meaningful Friendships for Older Adults

A social circle and meaningful friendships can greatly enhance the quality of life, especially as you get older. It can provide a sense of belonging, support, and opportunities for new experiences and personal growth.

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Rediscover the Joy of Socializing: 7 Effective Strategies to Build Meaningful Friendships for Older Adults
6 Min Read April 20th, 2023

A healthy social life is an integral part of a person's life. No matter their age. People feel the need for connection with others at every stage of their life, and the lack of it can be really detrimental to their overall health. But the older we are, the harder it seems to meet new people and make real connections. Making new friends is much easier in your twenties than when you are older. But it is not impossible, and you shouldn't get discouraged. 

There are challenges that can make it more difficult for some older adults to form new friendships. For example, retirement or health issues may limit opportunities for social interaction, and some people may be less inclined to seek new connections as they age.

But ultimately, the ability to make friends is influenced by a wide range of factors, including personality, lifestyle, and life experiences. The key is to be open-minded, and the benefits of social connections are numerous. 

Join a Book Club

One of the ways to make new friends as an older adult is by joining a book club. This is a great way to meet new people who share similar interests and an easier way for those who struggle a little in social situations. It doesn't have to be just a book club. It can be a movie club or a TV show club; there are many possibilities. 

Before meeting someone new, many people feel anxious about not having common interests or not knowing how to start a conversation. However, with clubs centered around shared interests, you're assured of a common ground that keeps conversations flowing. These clubs often involve activities such as watching movies or reading books, followed by discussions during subsequent meetings. They're an excellent opportunity to socialize and hone social skills, especially if you're a little rusty in that department.

Utilize Social Media

You can make new friends as an older adult by using social media.

While the jury is still out on whether the pros of social media outweigh the cons, it is undeniable that social media is extremely useful when it comes to helping people connect and stay in touch. Many older adults want to make new friends, and you can count on them having social media accounts. The key is to make a good and honest profile on social media. Write a little about yourself and then share your hobbies and interests. 

With time you will encounter profiles of other people with similar interests, and you can become friends. It can still be very fulfilling, even if it is just an online friendship. Social media can also help you reconnect with old friends you lost touch with. Many people had positive experiences with this and managed to find friends from childhood.

Make New Friends By Taking a Class

A cooking class is an excellent opportunity to make new friends.

There is a way to combine making new friends, learning a new skill, or getting better at a hobby simultaneously. You can simply start taking group lessons. Today there are so many different options, pottery classes, painting classes, cooking classes, etc. These classes are great for meeting new people and starting friendships because you are all working on mastering a new skill. You are all beginners, and that's a good icebreaker. The good thing is that today you can find these classes specifically for older adults in almost any city. So they will be easy to find. 

Take a class you will enjoy, something you have always wanted to learn. Go there, be friendly and open, and you will make friends.

Group Travel

Travel companies often organize trips exclusively for older adults, with everything from logistics to activities designed to cater to specific age groups and needs. This presents a fantastic opportunity for older adults to forge new friendships, as traveling with others of the same age often leads to shared experiences and bonding that can lead to lasting relationships.

If you are going on a more extended trip, you should take the advice from experts at and leave your valuables in a storage unit until you return. This is especially useful for seniors who don't have anybody to house-sit for them while they are gone.

Get Involved in Your Community

One effective way to combat loneliness and make new connections is to get involved in your local community. Volunteering to help with events, fundraisers, and other activities is an excellent way to meet new people and make friends with whom you share common interests and passions. 

By taking an active role in your community, you can not only expand your social circle but also contribute to the well-being of your community and improve your overall quality of life.

Start Exercising

Group exercise has benefits for your health and your social life.

Group exercising allows you to make friends as an older adult and is also great for your health. A regular workout routine is crucial, so taking a group exercise class would be wise. There are many exercise classes for older adults, and they are an excellent opportunity for socializing. The key is to be consistent. Don't skip classes or give up if you don't feel like you succeeded right away. Progress both with exercising and making new friends takes time, so be patient.

Be sure to always go to the same time for each class so you get to know everyone in the class. If the people in the class are not your age group or perhaps not social, see if they offer the same class at other times.

Join a Group Sport

Joining group sports teams as an older adult can greatly improve your fitness and social life. Engaging in regular physical activity can help prevent chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, and also promote mental health and cognitive function. 

Find a team in your local community you can join. Usually, for older citizens, those sports are softball, pickleball, tennis, bowling, golf, swimming, etc.

Participating in sports teams provides a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and support. It can help older adults combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Whether it's a community softball league or a tennis club, team sports provide opportunities to develop new skills, meet new people, and have fun while staying active.

In addition to the physical and mental benefits, group sports teams also offer older adults the chance to learn from one another and build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. It provides an avenue to form meaningful connections with others who share similar interests, and the shared experience of being part of a team can help build a sense of purpose and self-esteem.

In Conclusion

Meeting new people and making real connections has its challenges at any age. But just because you are an older adult doesn't mean you can do it. As you can see, there are many ways to make new friends as an older adult. But the key is being open-minded, friendly, and, most of all, persistent.

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About the Author

Meghan Burnett is a freelance writer from New York, and she has been writing about the importance of healthy social life at every age for the last six years. She enjoys gardening and caring for her two dogs when she is not writing articles.

LTC News Contributor Meghan Burnett

Meghan Burnett

Contributor since April 20th, 2023

Editor's Note

Maintaining friendships and social interaction is crucial for older adults, especially in retirement. Studies have shown that social isolation and loneliness can have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing the risk of chronic diseases, depression, and cognitive decline. 

Once you retire, you may lose your friends from work and associates. You need to replace those human connections, and doing so will help you in the aging process. A strong social support network can lead to a longer and healthier life, improved cognitive function, and improved emotional well-being.

Retirement can be a significant life transition, and it's common for older adults to experience a sense of loss, disorientation, or boredom. As part of a retirement plan, it's essential to prioritize social interaction and friendships. By staying socially engaged, individuals can find meaning and purpose, maintain a sense of identity, and continue to learn and grow. 

Social interaction also provides opportunities for travel, volunteering, and pursuing new hobbies or interests. By prioritizing social interaction, individuals can enjoy a fulfilling and meaningful retirement while maintaining their physical and mental health.

Aging is a reality; as we age, we will experience a decline in our health, body, and mind. These changes increase our need for help with the daily living activities we take for granted today, like bathing, using the bathroom, and just getting around. 

These are what are known as "Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)" and "Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)". The ADLs are:

  1. Bathing: The ability to wash oneself and maintain personal hygiene.
  2. Dressing: The ability to dress and undress oneself, including selecting appropriate clothing and fastening buttons or zippers.
  3. Eating: The ability to feed oneself, including preparing food, using utensils, and chewing and swallowing safely.
  4. Transferring: The ability to move oneself from one position to another, such as from a bed to a wheelchair or standing up from a chair.
  5. Toileting: The ability to use the toilet or commode, including getting on and off, cleaning oneself, and managing incontinence.
  6. Continence: The ability to control bladder and bowel functions.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are more complex tasks that individuals need to perform to maintain their independence in the community. The IADLs are:

  1. Managing Finances: The ability to manage one's finances, including paying bills, budgeting, and managing bank accounts.
  2. Shopping: The ability to shop for groceries, household items, and other necessities, either online or in person.
  3. Meal Preparation: The ability to plan and prepare meals, including using kitchen appliances and following recipes.
  4. Housekeeping: Maintaining a clean and tidy living environment, including cleaning, laundry, and other household tasks.
  5. Transportation: The ability to use public or private transportation to get to appointments, run errands, and engage in social activities.
  6. Medication Management: The ability to manage one's medications, including taking the correct dosage at the right time and refilling prescriptions.

These IADLs are essential for individuals to remain independent and engaged in the community. 

When you have difficulty performing one or more of these tasks, you will require assistance or support from a caregiver or health care professional to meet your needs.

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