Five ways to create friendships at an older age

Five ways to create friendships at an older age

On Saturday, 30th July we’ll be celebrating International Friendship Day 2022.  

It’s incredibly unfortunate to hear that according to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. 

Friendships are very important at any age, but particularly for those in later life. John Moore, DO, an Aetna medical director and senior health specialist concluded following his 17 years of practice that friendships improve physical and mental health. He saw a marked difference in the health outcomes of older patients who were socially active compared to those who weren’t. The difference was especially clear among people who had complex, chronic conditions like diabetes or emphysema and had to stick to a daily regimen of medications and healthy routines. 

So, spending time with friends is vital, but how can we create friendships in later life? Today we’re sharing five ideas for meeting new people and forming new connections at an older age.  

Start with people you already know, but don’t feel limited  

A great place to start when it comes to making friends is to reignite existing friendships. Perhaps reach out to a former school friend or colleague (the internet is a great way to do this, and you can always ask for help if the tech proves a bit of a challenge).  

Remember that people grow and change and those who you may not have had much in common with back then could be potentially wonderful friends now. You might be surprised what common interests you developed or how easily a friendship picks back up, even after a long time has passed.  

Join in with group activities and community projects 

Here at Birchwood House, we make sure there are always plenty of activities for our residents to be enjoying. We strive to create ample opportunities for our residents to connect and spend time with our friendly care staff and also with each other. From arts and crafts to Mexican Fiestas, we always encourage our residents to join in in any way they can and have fun. You can learn more about the activities we organise here at Birchwood house by visiting our activities page.  

Whether it’s joining in within a residential home or seeking out community initiatives and projects, there are lots of opportunities out there for older people to get involved and make new friendships. Ask around, check community bulletin boards, or have a look online to see what’s happening in your local area. 

Embrace your passions 

Though trying new things is definitely encouraged, you don’t always have to push yourself that far out of your comfort zone to make new friends. Try embracing your passions. You likely already have hobbies and activities you like to do. Perhaps you enjoy gardening, playing cards, or even a bit of exercise. Whatever it might be, use your passions to meet people who share common interests. Perhaps you can find a gardening buddy or someone who could give you a run for your money at cards. Embracing your passions and the things you already know you enjoy is a great way to meet like-minded people. 

Just remember that part of the fun is broadening your horizons so try not to resist new things where you can.  

Make dining a social time 

Sitting down to eat a meal can be a fantastic time to strike up a conversation and get to know people. Perhaps enjoy a lunch club where you can be served a freshly-cooked meal alongside others. Food is a great way to bring people together and a meal provides a nice and easy icebreaker to get the conversation flowing. At Birchwood House, our meals are cooked by the wonderful Elia Cicatiello. Elia comes from Naples, Italy, and, has worked as a professional chef since he was 18, first in his native country and then in the UK. 

Remember what you have to offer 

Making new friends can be a bit daunting, even as an adult. Fear of social rejection is built into our DNA and is completely normal – however, it’s always a good idea to relax, be friendly and trust that people will want to connect. Social connection is a basic human need, and you won’t be the only person looking for friendship. Try to strike up a conversation where you can, be kind and helpful to those you come in contact with and remember that you have a wealth of knowledge, experience, kindness and care to share with those lucky enough to be your friend. Be open and be honest about how you feel.  

Whether it’s a friend, family member or even a member of staff at your residential home, telling someone you’re feeling a bit lonely or seeking connection can be incredibly freeing and open up opportunities you hadn’t realised before.  

You’re not alone.  

Time and time again, residents tell us that Birchwood’s friendly, family feel and high standard of care set us apart.  

Our residential home Birchwood House is a true home-from-home. Our dedicated team go the extra mile to ensure residents receive the highest quality care from our family-run business.   

We deliver care with professionalism, respect, and dignity. 

If you think you or a loved one would like to join our Birchwood House community, give us a call on 01892 863559.  

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