Socializing with others is important to our health and mental wellbeing. As such, everyone should put in the effort to build a social life given its tangible and long-term benefits. Making friends and connecting with them becomes increasingly important with age. Having a network of supportive friends can act as fuel for both our brains and bodies. Learn how seniors can make friends and add color to their lives.
The Science behind Making Friends
When we have a supportive network of friends, not only do we satisfy our basic need for socialization, but also allow our mental and emotional health to thrive. Studies have found that older adults who enjoy high levels of socialization and have tight-knit groups of friends are less likely to experience declines in cognitive functioning compared to their more socially disengaged counterparts. Likewise, research also shows that social isolation can be a catalyst for cognitive deterioration.
Louis Cozolino, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, delineates the positive impact of human relationships. According to him, we are naturally inclined to connect and interact with the people around us. He further underscores that people who have strong social connections with others are more likely to have better mental, cardiovascular, immunological and cognitive health.
Reasons for Loss of Friendships
During our youth, we often have more opportunities to socialize, interact and connect with people due to our school, work or home environment. Endearingly termed “circumstantialships”, we form friendships with people who are frequently our classmates, colleagues, and parents of our children’s friends. As we grow older, these relationships may start to fade, and we often become more selective about the friends we keep. Other times, we may get increasingly caught up in our busy lives and do not have time to keep up with our friends. As such, it is natural for some friendships to wane over time.
How to Make Friends
As we mature in age, it becomes increasingly important for us to play an active role in meeting new people. Here are five strategies you can use to help you make new friends:
- You can go for strolls in your neighborhood and try getting to know your own neighbors.
- You may want to take the first step in reaching out to others. When you meet someone you like, go ahead and initiate a second meeting. You can suggest an activity that both of you can participate in!
- Spend time listening to others. When the occasion calls for it, lend others a compassionate ear to show them that you care.
- We live in an age of technology, which has enabled us to connect in more ways than one. Consider joining social media platforms like Skype and Facebook to interact with people who share your interests.
- Do some volunteer work! Volunteering can be a fantastic way for you to give back to your community. It also provides you with opportunities to meet others with the same selfless spirit.
As time passes, you may find that you are no longer in contact with many of your old friends – it is natural for friends to drift apart! You are a different person now than you were before, and building new relationships is a part of life’s process. Joining community activities or signing up for dance classes can also increase the chances of clicking with someone and building connections that can last a lifetime. Take the first step today!