If you’ve ever observed young children at the park, you know how effortlessly friendships are formed. A small group can be playing tag, and a newcomer runs over with a breathless, “Can I play?” By and large, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and thus – instant friends.
If only it were that easy as adults! Friends for seniors provide many benefits, and they are especially important for older adults adhering to any type of COVID-related isolation protocols. So how are you able to help the older adults you love increase socialization and make some new friends? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of tag, try these tips:
Join a club. Brainstorm topics of interest with your family member: reading, knitting, gardening, fishing, sports. Next, search on the internet for groups in your community that meet to enjoy those activities together. The local senior center may be a great resource as well. If you cannot find an already-established group, consider establishing one of your own!
Take a class. Community colleges frequently offer reduced-cost (or no-cost) classes for older adults. Browse through an online list of courses to find several that trigger the senior’s curiosity and sign up. Don’t forget to check out physical fitness classes too! Many exercise programs geared specifically to seniors can be found at the YMCA or local gym.
Attend religious services. Many older adults stayed away from religious services during the pandemic. As it becomes safer to venture out, religious organizations are a good option to both build friendships and faith, frequently offering weekday study groups and programs as well as worship services.
Get involved virtually. There are countless opportunities to meet others remotely – even more so since the pandemic caused us to think outside of the box. From online games to yoga to learning new languages, no matter the interest, there’s likely a virtual version available!
Once engaging in new activities such as these, it may still be difficult to understand how to bridge the gap from an acquaintance to a friend. Help the older adult keep in mind that in all likelihood, everybody else in the room is experiencing the exact same trepidation and self-consciousness to some extent. With those children from the park in mind, encourage the senior to make the first move to start a friendly, welcoming conversation. Sometimes all it takes is just one person brave enough to start the ball rolling to kick off an enduring friendship!
Our caregiving companions are wonderful friends for seniors too! We very carefully match each individual with a caregiver who shares a similar personality type and interests, resulting in an easy and strong bond between the two. Contact CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 for a free of charge in-home consultation to learn more about our award-winning home care in Huntington Beach and neighboring communities.