Forming friendships as you age can sometimes be challenging. When you were a child, making friends may have come easily. A simple, “Can we be friends?” often brought us a dedicated playmate. If only it were that easy to make friends in our adult years!
Forming friendships can be more difficult as an adult, but it is still important. Researchers have discovered major benefits of maintaining friendships as we age. Below, we’ll fill you in on the power of friendship and share some tips on how to make friends as you get older.
Want to live longer? Form close friendships as you age! An Australian study found that close relationships with family members had little impact on longevity. But people with the most friends outlived those with the fewest by 22%.
Keeping a close circle of friends also alleviates loneliness. In this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, social isolation and loneliness were predictors of functional decline and death in those 60 years and older.
Not only do your friends add years to your life, but you also do the same for them. So when you’re spending time with friends, you can remind them of your life-extending superpower, and thank them for extending your life in return.
Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying SuperAgers since 2008. These are individuals who are 80 and older whose memory is similar to those 50-65 years old. They found that SuperAgers have more satisfying relationships than their peers in the control group.
“You don’t have to be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline,” author Emily Rogalski, an associate professor at Northwestern, said in a press release.
Next time you call up a friend for lunch, remember that it will be a great social activity and benefit your brain!
How to Create Friendships as You Age
There are opportunities to make friends right in your community. Your new friends may be waiting for you just a few blocks away. Here are ways to meet new people near you:
- Help at a local food pantry
- Mentor a child with Big Brothers, Big Sisters
- Join a community or church choir
- Attend city council meetings
- Take an art class
- Visit your local senior center
- Join a gym and participate in group exercise classes
- Find a support group
Making new friends as adults can feel awkward. One of the best things you can do is accept that it may feel a little unnatural at first. Like any new relationship, it takes a while to feel comfortable.
Studies suggest that it takes several months to form a close friendship. Continue to ask engaging questions and get together on a regular basis. If you keep trying despite being a little uncomfortable, you’re bound to have budding friendships.
WelbeHealth participants enjoy the benefits of companionship and participate in activities that can help make you less likely to suffer from depression. WelbeHealth helps seniors live independently in their homes and communities and provides opportunities to socialize with new friends.
At WelbeHealth, friends:
- Play dominoes, Bingo, and other games
- Talk about common interests such as music and books
- Share a bowl of popcorn while watching HBO movies
- Eat meals together and swap favorite recipes
- Support and check in on one another
Contact us today to see if you might qualify for WelbeHealth’s all-inclusive care for seniors.