Research shows that friends influence our health at every age. If a loved one you know is moving to a senior community, use these tips to make new friends.
Having a close circle of friends is important at every age, but especially so for seniors. It can positively impact our personal health and overall well-being as we grow older. From helping us stick to a healthier diet to providing emotional support during difficult times, friends play a role in how long and how well we live.
A common challenge seniors encounter, however, is how to make and maintain a social circle. An older adult might lose friends when they move to live closer to an adult child. Friendships developed from working together often fizzle after retirement. Even the growing trend of late-life divorce can leave a senior feeling isolated.
The need for socialization is often what leads an older adult to move to a community like The Wesley. If you know a senior loved one who is preparing to relocate to a senior living community, these tips can help.
Tips for Making New Friends in Senior Living
- Be friendly.
Being in an all-new environment can be a little intimidating, especially when other residents seem to know one another well. A new resident might feel a little awkward and uncomfortable at first. This can make them appear to be unfriendly.
Remind your loved one to greet new people they encounter. Even small gestures, such as a smile and quick wave, can help relationships start to build.
- Spend time in common areas.
Most senior living communities have common areas, such as lounges or television rooms, to encourage bonding among residents. Encourage your loved one to spend time in these areas every day. Even a few minutes can help them meet new people.
- Don’t eat alone.
Mealtimes are another easy way to meet new people. Encourage your older loved one to enjoy meals with fellow residents instead of eating on their own or taking meals to their apartment. A new resident can also use mealtime as an opportunity to make the rounds to other tables to introduce themselves.
- Participate in life-enrichment activities.
Most senior communities have a vibrant array of life-enrichment activities for residents to enjoy. Programs often range from fitness activities to art classes and group movie nights.
Review the monthly calendar for activities that sound interesting to your senior family member. Even if they start with only a few activities a week, encourage them to participate. It will provide them with a chance to get to know fellow residents.
If your loved one is reluctant to go alone, talk with the life-enrichment coordinator to see if there is a resident that could invite your loved one to attend with them. Another option is to join your family member for a few activities until they feel more comfortable being on their own.
- Host a housewarming party.
Once your loved one’s new senior apartment is settled, plan a housewarming party. Invite fellow residents, as well as old friends and family. Providing everyone with an opportunity to meet and get to know one another can help break the ice.
- Invite neighbors over.
Hosting new friends doesn’t have to be a formal affair. Encourage your senior loved one to invite a neighbor or two over each week until they’ve had a chance to meet them all. Maybe over coffee and a sweet treat or a cup of tea and cookies in the afternoon.
- Be patient.
Moving to a new home is a big transition. Some days will be better than others. It’s important to give your senior loved one time to adjust and settle in. As they do, they’ll likely be more inclined to spend time getting to know their new neighbors.
Downsizing Before a Move
Before your senior family member can move in and make new friends, you likely face the challenge of downsizing their current home. Use these five downsizing tips to make that process go a little more smoothly.