By: Darleen Mahoney
Its happening, you are making the move from your family home and familiar neighborhood and friends to a retirement community, either active or assisted living. You have worked very hard to make sure that you are making wise decisions and you know what you want or need in the place you will be moving. You know that one of the main ingredients that you need for yourself is to continue to be as active and social as possible. You know that you need to make new friends in your new living environment, as this is important to you. The good news is that it’s very possible.
For older adults, new environments and living spaces, new routines and new faces can be reason enough to become isolated from people and things that they enjoy, become lonely and feel depressed.
It’s important to acknowledge this as a possibility before making the move. Planning ahead to make an effort to meet and interact with the other residents is important prior to the move. Look at the calendar of events and outings. Go ahead and sign up for activities and clubs. Keep your commitments!
There are also other ways to meet new friends daily that share the same common interests. Check out the following:
- Hobby focused groups
- Book Clubs
- Watch TV with groups vs. privately
- Run errands with groups-Ex: grocery store
- Support Groups-Ex: emotional, medical
If your community offers welcoming events for new residents, attend the event! Each new resident needs the same love and support that you did when you first arrived. If you don’t feel that you had a welcoming environment, be the one that makes the change! You never know who you are going to meet. You don’t want to miss out!
Be informed of what resources that you have at your disposal and take advantage of them. If you have a special interest and its not available, find out if you can start a new group.
If you feel like you are taking these steps on your own and you’re still struggling to make friends, confide in a caregiver to see if they can provide a solution. If you prefer, confide in a family member or someone that you feel comfortable talking about your struggle seeking their advice.
Actively taking steps to make new friends can be exhilarating and stressful at the same time. Maintaining healthy friendships in retirement is good for your mental and emotional health. It can help with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Be happy and find your new found lifelong friendships in retirement!