If you’ve ever watched kids at the playground, you know how effortlessly friendships are formed. A small group may be playing tag, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” More often than not, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and voila – instant friends.
If only it were that easy as adults! Friendships provide us with a wealth of benefits, and are especially important for seniors now following COVID-related isolation requirements. So how can you help the older adults you love boost socialization and make some new friends? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of tag, try these tips:
- Join a club. Brainstorm topics of interest with your loved one: reading, knitting, gardening, fishing, sports. Then search online for groups in your area that meet to enjoy those activities together. The local senior center may be a great resource as well. If you can’t find an already-established group, consider starting one of your own!
- Take a class. Community colleges often offer reduced-cost (or no-cost) classes for seniors. Browse through an online list of courses to find one or more that spark the senior’s curiosity and sign up. Don’t forget to check out physical fitness classes too! A variety of exercise programs geared specifically to older adults can be found at the local gym or YMCA.
- Attend religious services. Many seniors stayed away from religious services during the pandemic. As it becomes safer to venture out, religious organizations are a great way to both build faith and friendships, often offering weekday programs and study groups in addition to worship services.
- Get involved virtually. There are countless opportunities to meet others remotely – even more so since the pandemic caused us to think outside of the box. From online games to yoga to learning new languages, whatever the interest, there’s likely a virtual version available!
Once engaging in new activities such as these, it can still be challenging to know how to bridge the gap from an acquaintance to a friend. Help the senior remember that more than likely, everyone else in the room is feeling the same trepidation and self-consciousness to some degree. With those playground children in mind, encourage the senior to make the first move to start a friendly, welcoming conversation. Sometimes all it takes is one person brave enough to break the ice to kick off a lifelong friendship!
Our caregiving companions are great friends for seniors too! We carefully match each person with a caregiver who shares a similar personality type and interests, leading to a fast and strong bond between the two. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation to learn more!