Active Adult Communities

Seniors Making New Friends

September 12, 2012 • Fenny Peiffer

By Frank Curran: Principal and Resident at The Fairways at Savannah Quarters, west Savannah’s finest Active Adult community … “A Lifestyle…Worth Living!”

The toughest part of relocating isn’t what we leave behind; it’s who we leave behind.  Material goods can be moved, but our friends and family often stay when we leave. Though modern communication via email, video chat, and social networking sites like Facebook help us to remain in touch with friends and loved ones, we soon begin to miss our shared activities: going shopping, fishing, playing golf, cards, or just chatting over coffee.  No matter how far away from home we move, downsizing and relocating disrupts relationships and requires seniors to make new friends.


Finding and making friends is a challenge that many of us haven’t encountered since childhood.  When we were little kids, making friends was easy. We simply walked up to the playground and joined the group.  As we grew older and our lives became better defined, we found that we fit well into some groups but not into others.  In high school, “cliques” of students formed around mutual interests; at work friendships formed based around job duties, and in the community friendships formed around church, scouts, sports, and other family activities.


Seniors who have successfully made the transition to a new life consistently offer the same advice: keep the best parts of the “old life” but nurture the “new life”.  One senior who is an avid gardener put it this way: “For me, downsizing was much like tending my grape vines.  In order for the vines to bear good fruit each year, they had to be cut back in the winter.  By pruning the vines and keeping the essential parts, I made room for new buds to blossom in the spring.  When the grapes matured, I had more than I started with, because I had the best of the old vines plus the new vines. Downsizing and relocating was much the same: I “pruned” my old life and nurtured my new life, and I’m having more fun now than I ever imagined I would”.


That’s good advice.  And, with that in mind, I’d like to offer some suggestions as to how you can ease into your transition by “keeping the best of the old and acquiring the best of the new”:


1. Make a list of activities that you have always enjoyed. Which of these activities are available in your new community?  Just like in high school, we will fit naturally into groups of people with interests similar to ours.  It will be easy to make new friends when we have something in common.


2.  Make a list of activities that you’ve always wanted to try.  Special interest clubs are always looking for new members, and seniors, as a group, enjoy sharing their interest and passion for their hobbies.  Don’t you enjoy sharing your interests with those who are curious about them?


3. Volunteer to help out at community events.  If your community has a social committee, that’s a great place to start because you’ll quickly learn who the “movers and shakers” are in your community.  Willing volunteers are always in short supply, and your willingness to help out will be gladly embraced by the other volunteers.


4.  Invite some neighbors over for lunch. Sharing a meal is a great way to find people with similar interests.


5.  Take a class. Many community colleges and senior centers offer free continuing education classes to seniors.


6. Go to a gym.  If your community offers a Fitness Center, that’s even better.  Because you will all be having the same exercise challenges, you’ll find that conversations start naturally. As a side benefit, you’ll also get into shape!


7.  Invite someone to go to a Flea Market, Antique Show, or Sporting Event.


8.  Join a museum.  Many museums have special members-only programs that attract like-minded people.


9.  Take (or organize) a bus trip. Spending hours in the close quarters of a tour bus will allow you to get to know people very well because everyone passes the time by talking to one another.  When you get back home, you’ll find you have dozens of interesting new friends!


10.  Join a club.  Most of the better-organized senior living communities have book clubs, garden clubs, and common-interest clubs.  One of the best ways to meet new people who are moving into your community is to join the community “welcoming” committee.  You’ll get to meet both your new and existing neighbors.


Downsizing and relocating can open the door to wonderful new experiences and wonderful new friends.  Like my gardener friends said, “I’m having more fun now than I ever imagined I would”.





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