For older adults, it’s easy to feel like your days of being a “social butterfly” are in the past.
As we get older, our friends and family move around, and health challenges can make it more difficult to go out, see old friends, and make new ones.
However, it’s important to remember that getting older does not have to mean giving up on meeting new people and being social — just the opposite, in fact! There are more opportunities than ever out there for seniors looking to make new connections, build friendships, and become a more active part of their community. The health benefits of building these strong social bonds cannot be overstated. Older adults who are more socially connected report having better overall mental and physical health, as well as a more positive outlook on life.
Looking for some inspiration? Here are seven surefire ways for seniors to meet new people, assisted by the support of a family caregiver or senior companion:
1.) Volunteer in the Community
Giving back can be a fulfilling and empowering way for older adults to spend their time — and an easy, convenient way to meet like-minded new people. There are many different ways for seniors to volunteer in their communities, including joining service organizations specifically intended for older adults. Elsewhere, hospitals, theaters, community centers, schools, and other places are always in need of volunteers. With the help of a caregiver or companion, seniors can find opportunities that match their skill levels and interests, and start getting involved in no time.
2.) Join a Local Activity Group
Whether your passion is gardening, going to see classic movies, taking road trips, or anything in between, you’re sure to find a local group that shares your love. Around the country, you’ll find activity groups built around common interests, many of which are specifically meant for older adults seeking friendship and community. Community centers, churches, and senior centers can be a great resource as you start searching for groups near you. Online, you may also want to explore using Facebook Groups, Meetup.com, or the AARP’s digital community tools.
3.) Join an Exercise Class
Whatever your current fitness level or experience, taking an exercise class or joining a fitness group can be a great way for older adults to get active, and become part of a dynamic community. Explore options in your area, based around your interests, health goals, and fitness background. You may find all sorts of opportunities, ranging from yoga meetups, to walking clubs, to water aerobics sessions, to senior-friendly dance classes.
4.) Enroll In a Continuing Education Class
It’s never too late to learn something new! Studies have shown that older adults who continue to challenge themselves and learn new things over time experience better brain health than those who don’t. At the same time, enrolling in a part-time class can be a great way for older adults to spend time with others and make new friends. Look into continuing education options in your community, including community college courses on interesting academic subjects. Caregivers and seniors might also want to seek out specialized classes on cooking, art, or fitness. Many schools allow seniors to sit in on some classes free of charge, or join discounted courses tailored for senior students.
5.) Organize a Game Night or Potluck
For seniors, one of the biggest hurdles to having company is often the “fear factor” involved in reaching out and inviting people in. It can be intimidating to talk to new people, or even invite friends over for a few hours. One way to take the pressure off may be to organize an activity, such as a game night or a potluck dinner party. This way, when a senior invites people over, there are clear expectations about what everyone will responsible for, taking off some of the pressure of being a good host. Family caregivers and senior companions can also help by offering rides to elderly guests, managing invitations, or helping clean, cook, or prepare the home before the big get-together.
6.) Spend Time at a Senior or Community Center
As the AARP has put it: “Senior centers have moved way beyond Friday-night bingo.” Many local senior centers and community centers organize all sorts of different events aimed at older audiences, including film screenings, fitness classes, day trips, and more. Becoming a member of a local community center or senior center is a great way for older adults to meet new people, engage in their community, and start building lasting friendships.
7.) Join a Faith-based Community
Throughout history, places of worship have also doubled as meeting houses and community centers. Today, many older adults find fellowship and community at churches, temples, and other religious organizations. In addition to getting the opportunity to spend time with others, faith-based organizations can be great at spurring older adults to become active in other ways. Many religious groups hold classes, organize community events, and sponsor outreach and service activities, which can all be convenient ways for seniors to get engaged, develop a sense of purpose, and meet new people.
How a Senior Companion or Caregiver Can Help
Becoming socially active and maintaining strong bonds is one of the most powerful things older adults can do for their health and well-being — but it can also be tricky to manage alone.
Many older adults face challenges that can make going out and seeing people more difficult, including mobility issues, lack of access to transportation, and more. Family caregivers can help in many different ways, but it’s also often difficult for family members to spend as much time and energy as they’d like helping their senior loved ones, given all of the responsibilities that come along with being a member of the “Sandwich Generation.”
That’s where a professional senior companion can step in and help! A senior companion can make it easier for seniors to live independently and nurture meaningful relationships, while also giving family caregivers back time for some much-needed rest and respite.
Available on a flexible schedule, a senior companion can provide a number of different services designed to help seniors go out, get active, and make the most of their time, including providing transportation services, offering assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and helping with housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, and more.
Even more importantly? A senior companion is not just a helper, but a friend – one who you can always trust to be there for your senior loved one with a smile, a story, or emotional support. In addition to helping seniors explore their community, run errands, and meet up with friends or social groups, a senior companion can always be there to share meals, make conversation, and play games, enriching an older adult’s life with their care and attention.
About Companions for Seniors
Looking for a senior companion to help ensure that your senior loved one is able to remain social, connect with their community, and live life to the fullest? Companions for Seniors can help!
Our trained and bonded companions are passionate about empowering the elderly to live more independently. Our mission is to help senior adults lead active and enriched lifestyles, by connecting them with their community and helping them to maintain meaningful relationships.
Locally owned and operated in Chicagoland, our companions are available on flexible schedules to spend time with the senior in your life. Whether your loved one needs transportation services, a helping hand around the house, or just a friendly face to visit regularly, our caregivers can help give your senior loved one the personalized attention and support they need — while giving family caregivers a chance to recharge.
Have any questions? Curious about how to set up a personalized care plan for the aging adult in your life? Be sure to get in touch online or give us a call at 866-910-9020 to get the conversation started!