We humans are highly social beings by nature. We crave social interaction and really do need it in order to flourish. Of course, we’re all different and while some might feel the need to be around people all the time, others might want a little more time on their own. One thing is for certain, though: having friends does a whole lot of good for all of us, especially as we age.
Why We Need Friends
Friendships can have a huge impact on our health, both mentally and physically. This is especially true for seniors. Having the support of others is necessary for those adjusting to these new stages in their lives. This can be in the form of emotional support, by simply being there to listen when they feel the need to talk, or in other forms of support, such as running errands, cooking, or staying active.
Friendships keep us happy and in a good mindset. Those who maintain good friendships are less likely to become depressed or feel lonely. Seniors who have friends in their lives feel important and valued – they benefit from the support they receive and also from the support they provide for their friends. It’s wonderful for seniors to feel like they are able to assist others, and are not just on the receiving end all of the time. It’s a great way to maintain that sense of independence as their lifestyles change.
Shared Experiences are Invaluable
As we get older, we go through some fairly significant life changes. This could mean downsizing from a house to a smaller apartment, moving to a seniors living community, or dealing with health issues that impact our everyday lives. These are things that family members might not fully understand. When you have a friend who has experienced a similar situation, they are able to offer a unique kind of support and advice that you simply can’t get from anyone else.
At Bria Communities, we understand how valuable these relationships are, so we always encourage our residents to get involved with the community. This is why our meals are enjoyed in a group setting. It gives residents the opportunity to meet new friends in a comfortable setting and allows them to ease into a more active social life.
How to Spot Potential New Friends
Sometimes distance and other life changes sometimes make it tough to maintain old friendships, which can leave people feeling isolated. Hence why it’s so important for seniors to seek out new friendships and forge new bonds with those around them. Some seniors might feel nervous around new people and not quite understand how to establish a new friendship.
So, how can you encourage them to spot new friends? Ask them to think about the people they’ve met through their daily activities. These could be people they’ve taken a class with, someone they see regularly at a coffee shop or a neighbour they encounter from time to time. Is there anyone they would like to get to know a little better?
Remind them that they will need to be a little brave. Work with them to create some icebreakers, so they will feel confident enough to strike up a conversation or ask to make plans to meet up in the future.
Ways to Connect with Others
Of course, the easiest way to make friends is to get involved and be around other people. There are plenty of ways for seniors to meet new people and establish strong relationships. Volunteer opportunities are great for meeting people, while also supporting others. Even something as simple as smiling at strangers while out on a walk can eventually lead to a new friendship.
One of the easiest ways for seniors to meet people is to join a team, club, society, or organization that has meaning for them. After all, everyone there will already have a shared interest, which makes it easier to break the ice. Encourage them to try crafts, sports, music, book clubs, travel, games or outdoor activities. At Bria Communities, we offer many of these types of activity groups and group outings for residents to take part in.
When you’re encouraging your loved one to make new friends, remind them that it’s not about how many friends they have. Rather, it’s about the quality of those friendships. One good friend is just as good as having a sea of friends, as long as they have someone to spend time with.