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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Looking for New Friendships

Typically, making friends is something that just happens. It has never been something that you had to give alot of thought. When you were in school it was who sat next to you in class. As a parent, it was often the parents of your children’s friends or the neighbors who also have kids. But after you’ve retired or even relocated, you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs and contemplating how to go about making some new friends. Suddenly there seem to be fewer opportunities to meet new people and when you do make an attempt, you might feel awkward and a tad rusty.

According to research, close relationships are essential for our physical, mental and emotional health. Even our self-esteem and longevity hinge on close relationships. If you find yourself eagerly anticipating the postal worker’s arrival so you can pick up yesterday’s conversation or if you order take out because it could result in a conversation with the delivery person, it might be time to shake up your routine and sharpen those friend making skills.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:


  • Consider checking out some continuing-education classes at your local college or university. Several colleges offer classes specifically for older adults. If you’re on a budget, many colleges will allow older adults audit classes for free.
  • Start accepting invitations regardless of your reservations. Getting out more increases your chances of meeting new people.
  • There’s a lot more to senior centers than bingo. Some have a variety of classes and activities. Stop by your local senior center to see what piques your interest.
  • If you’re retired, taking a part time job will expose you to an entire new group of people. The extra cash in your pocket won’t hurt either.
  • Get to know your neighbors by organizing a potluck or consider cooking for them.
  • Volunteering at the local animal shelter, hospital, church, museum or school can be an excellent way to meet new people with similar interest.
  • Join a gym and sign up for a class that meets weekly. You’ll more than likely see the same people each week.
  • If you love animals, get a dog. Not only are they great companions, they’ll also take you for long walks that could lead to conversations with other dog owners in area or random people that stop to pet your dog.
  • If you are of a certain faith, but haven’t really practiced it much over the last few years, consider joining a church of your faith. They often have a multitude of social activities and are great about welcoming new folks.
  • Try logging on to Enter your zip code and you’ll find tons of groups in your area focusing on a variety of different activities that you could check out.

If you take the time to pursue your own interests on a consistent basis (cooking classes, tennis, book clubs etc.) you are likely to find others with the same interests. Don’t trick yourself into thinking everybody already has all the friends they need. Life shifts and changes, people come and go and there are a lot of people looking for a few new friends. Find your sense of adventure again and be willing to take the risk and ask for an email or phone number. Finding new friends may take a little work at first, but the outcome could be a great friend that will last a lifetime.

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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