Making and Maintaining Friendships Later in Life
- January 22, 2024
- 4 minute read
- ArchWell Health
A healthy life is an active one, and activities for older adults are best shared with friends.
We’re all made for social connection. But as we get older, it gets harder to keep friendships going. And this often leads to loneliness and isolation.
Sadness and depression are typical side effects of being lonely. But did you know being lonely may also increase your risk for heart disease and stroke? According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke for those who are lonely or isolated.
Staying busy is one way to keep these risks down. But getting out of the house to do physical activities isn’t always possible — or even enjoyable. Especially if you’re doing them alone!
What if you could stay engaged, active and live your best healthy life through strong relationships? Good news: You can! Stay connected to these 8 kinds of people to boost your mental, physical and emotional health.
1. Healthcare Providers
Staying up to date on regular wellness visits, bi-annual dental cleanings and specialty-care checkups is a big part of healthy aging. And having a healthcare provider who you trust like a friend makes those visits more enjoyable (and less like a chore!).
ArchWell Health primary care providers spend more time with you to, a. learn about your lifestyle, b. listen to your health concerns and c. answer any questions you have. Plus, ArchWell Health offices have full care teams of nurses, social workers, medical assistants and other people to support you as you age. It takes a village, and ArchWell Health is here for it. Learn more about ArchWell Health today: Get Started!
2. Family That Brings You Joy
Whether by blood or by choice, family is forever. But let's face it: older adults need stress-free interactions. Spend time with the family members and friends you genuinely like. These people make you laugh, remember the good times and fill you with joy.
Communicate regularly by phone, email or snail mail if you can't meet face-to-face. And cut down on contact with any family who add extra emotional, physical or financial worries to your plate.
3. Active Agemates
We all have those friends with a "forever young" spirit. They're the first to know about activities for older adults and they’re always up for a new adventure, near or far. Keep these people on speed dial.
Whether it's a book club or a Beyoncé concert, chances are they know how to get in — and have a great time! If you don't have one of these friends, stop by ArchWell Health to participate in their weekly classes. These events are open to the public and include arts and crafts, chair yoga and educational seminars.
4. Big Thinkers
Aging is no reason to leave decades of experience and expertise on a shelf. Older adults need intellectually stimulating friends and activities to thrive. Connect with big thinkers by attending book clubs at your local library or competing in chess matches in the park.
Some people take up new skills or join online courses. Check out ArchWell Health’s educational seminar offerings. Whatever you choose, keep your brain fresh by being a lifelong student.
5. Movers and Shakers
Staying physically active is one of the best ways to stay healthy as you age. Easier said than done when you’re housebound or have chronic pain! To stay motivated to exercise, take nature walks and do other activities that get the blood pumping. Grab a friend to go alone as a fitness buddy or accountability partner.
The movers and shakers in your life might be the same age or younger than you. Age doesn’t matter, as long as they're committed to good nutrition and healthy habits. You might even learn some new health hacks to add to your daily routine.
One of the hardest things about aging is feeling like the world is changing too fast. Spending time with the kids in your life brings things into focus. Whether they're tiny babies, teeny tots or even testy teens, kids keep you young.
An added bonus: they benefit from your wisdom, and you can learn from their perspectives — and lean on their skills, especially when it comes to using FaceTime or figuring out TikTok.
7. People Who Speak Your Language
Whether you moved to the US as a young adult or came here more recently, the CDC noted that — among other vulnerable groups — there’s a higher risk for social isolation among immigrants. There’s a few different reasons for this. For one thing, older adults may find it harder to travel to their birth country to visit family who may still live there, or to be surrounded by their culture of origin.
If you’re looking for that extra sense of belonging, check out nearby community, cultural and senior care centers that focus on people who share your ethnic or linguistic background. If you don’t get to hear your first language much where you live, try listening to in-language audiobooks and podcasts.
8. Fellow Enthusiasts
Whether it’s knitting, listening to jazz or playing mahjong, make it a point to hang out with people who share your passions. They won’t get annoyed when you call to pick their brain, and their joy for your shared hobby will keep you connected to a vibrant community.
Remember, the things you enjoy don’t have to be things you’re good at. So, don’t hide your love for karaoke, painting or baking just because you could use a bit more practice. In fact, that just means you should hang out more often with these fantastic friends.
It's never too late...
If you think getting out of the house is a young person’s game, think again. From bowling alleys to movie theaters, senior discounts and 55+ designated days abound. Take advantage of these specials as opportunities to make new friendships — or rekindle old ones — with people who share your hobbies.
Want to stay close to home? Invite relatives for a walk around the block, or have your neighbors come over for coffee on your porch. Just enjoying a bit of sunlight and stimulating conversation is good for the soul.
And it never hurts to laugh at yourself every once in a while. Try new things—even if it’s just to say you tried it. Be open to discover hidden talents and interests.
Don't know where to start? Reach out to ArchWell Health today to learn more about all the resources waiting for you there.
About the Author
ArchWell Health, Senior Primary Care