One of the most difficult parts of getting older is the loss of friends. But there is always time to meet new people and make new friends, especially for seniors in assisted living communities. In assisted living seniors have their own personal space but are never far from activities and events where they can join with other residents to forge new friendships, within the community, without having to go somewhere else. Here are five great tips for meeting people and making new friendships in your assisted living community.
5 Tips to Meet New Friends Later in Life in Assisted Living
Eat meals in the dining room — Seniors who are new to assisted living may feel anxious about eating meals with strangers, but the truth is, eating in the communal dining room is a quick and easy way to meet people. Dining together not only can help seniors get oriented to the community, but they will immediately meet new friends and maybe even reconnect with old friends they didn’t know who also lived there.
The beauty of communal dining is that people of all types are together at each table so even introverted seniors will likely find themselves with one or more other residents who are more outgoing and can introduce and welcome them. Another great benefit is that communal dining can help banish the feeling of loneliness seniors who live alone often experience, which can have a negative impact on appetite and thus overall health. And of course, assisted living communities try hard to make dining a pleasure as well as nutritious for seniors with a variety of dietary needs. Find out more about why communal dining is great for seniors in the nutriotioncaresystems.com blog, “The Importance of Dining Together for the Elderly.”
Get with the program — Seniors in assisted living don’t just leave their past lives behind, they bring them along including hobbies and favorite pastimes. Assisted living communities are designed not only to help seniors stay safe but to also help them stay connected to what they love with regularly scheduled meet-ups and activities.
For example, residents can get together with like-minded people to share hobbies or interests and learn from each other. Among the many possibilities are board game groups, card game enthusiasts (like bridge and UNO), bible study or other faith-based groups, and hobbies such as knitting, reading, painting, and others.
Another great idea is to join an exercise group. Some may walk outdoors, while others swim or do aerobics. Exercising with a group is not only more fun, but it can also help seniors maintain a regular exercise schedule, stay in shape and make new friends.
Frequent common areas — Community life means there are plenty of communal spaces that are shared among all residents. These include game rooms, libraries, fitness rooms, porches and patios, and more. These are areas where residents come together to listen to music, watch movies, do puzzles, or just share a cup of coffee and conversation. Essentially these common areas are hubs of activity and excellent places to meet other residents and create new friendships. Keep in mind that staff is always willing to not only assist with getting to common areas, but also to introducing new residents to others to help break the ice. These areas are also often home to scheduled activities that everyone is invited to join. Check out the great assisted living options available at Countryside!
Participate in community events — Great assisted living communities also schedule great events that are fun, entertaining and free! With many residents attending, these events offer wonderful opportunities to meet and make new friends and enjoy the company of new friends.
Onsite possibilities might include community-wide birthday celebrations, ice cream socials, happy hours, and visits from local musicians and other artists. Other events are planned offsite at venues around the local communities and might include visiting local parks, attending concerts, eating out at great area restaurants, or attending fairs, craft shows, or other seasonal events. Find out how much fun we have at Countryside by visiting our Facebook page.
Trust your intuition — Just like when we are young, seniors often naturally migrate to others who they intuitively feel would make great friends. So even shy seniors should trust their intuition and feel free to reach out to others and introduce themselves or ask for help from staff when they want to meet another resident. It’s important to remember as well that everyone wants and needs friends so you might just be doing someone a big favor by initiating a new friendship that could last for years to come!
Ganton’s Countryside offers a range of daily social activities and opportunities to engage and entertain our wonderful residents. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.