It’s important in retirement to maintain old friendships and cultivate new ones. Why? Friends help to keep us young, sharp, and current. They challenge us to keep our minds and bodies active and to try new things.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “I have plenty of friends already”, I invite you to imagine a time when you may choose (or need) to relocate. Maybe you want to move closer to family but they live outside your current community. Perhaps you are downsizing. Or it’s finally time to move to the location of your retirement dreams.
I know it can be tough to make new friends late in life but surrounding ourselves with community is important. If you’ve been reading my 4 Pillars series (Health, Family, Purpose and Finance), you know that having a group of supportive people in your life is very impactful and the benefits are significant on health, cognitive functioning, a feeling of belonging, and more.
It may take a little effort to find your place in a new crowd so I’ve put together a list of places where you might consider look for your “new bestie”:
- A public fitness class. Yes, chair yoga is a thing and you are bound to find many seniors in this class. An added bonus is that keeping your body active allows you to check off two boxes. Plus did you know that you are 30% more likely to work out if you have a buddy? The YMCA is a fantastic resource for affordable fitness classes.
- An enrichment class. What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to try? Learning a language (or polishing up on one)? How to master your technology? How to paint with watercolors? The scariest part is signing up for the class, as you already know the other students attending share the same interest as you do. After you get comfortable chatting up folks before or after class, think about proposing a group coffee or meal before or after class.
- A shared space. Want an office outside the home a day per week? Join a co-working space. Interested in learning a new hobby but don’t have the tools (or the space)? Join a co-leased garage, woodshop, or community-funded tech space. To find out more about the resources available in your community, consider contacting your Chamber of Commerce, dropping by your local library, calling the Senior Center or Senior Outreach that serves your area.
- Volunteering. Volunteering may be as simple as petting dogs at the animal shelter a few hours one day per week or as extensive as serving on a church community. Perhaps you’d like to put your business acumen to work and mentor with SCORE. Does the neighborhood newsletter need an editor? Raise your hand. Or maybe you volunteer to scoop at the library’s annual ice cream social. There are plenty of organizations in your backyard that would jump at the chance to have you help. Reach out. Try a few. Hone in on the opportunities you like where you feel included and valued.
- Virtual only? Meetup is an awesome (and safe) online space that has expanded its social offerings. Want to know how to brew and pour the perfect cup of coffee? There’s a senior Starbucks barista that will teach you (and several hundred others). Love mysteries, self-help books, sci-fi, best sellers? There’s a book club (or a dozen) that can’t wait to meet you. Learn about meditation, travel, politics, play card games, organic vegetable gards, permaculture, birds, or spiders. If you can dream it up, Meetup has a group.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on places you’ve looked to find your people. Please feel free to share the good, the bad, the ugly, and any beautiful friendships you’ve developed in the comments below.