How to make friends when you're over 55
Our working lives bustle with people and lots of activity. Interactions with people are imposed on us. In the whirlwind of building careers and growing families, we even crave time alone. Then we hit our fifties and sixties.
The obligatory work, business networking, educational and family commitments that brought new friends into our lives don’t come as fast and hard as they used to – for many of us.
Having good friends and being socially active is essential for good health and well-being.
How do you make friends and stay socially active when you’re over 55?
Life as we approach 60 and over
For many, our middle working years are a time of juggling family commitments and community obligations like helping out on committees. Social events are pushed our way and many of us take these years of friendship building for granted.
That is, until we start transitioning from full time employment and from sharing a home with school aged children – both of which easily connect us to a larger community that is ours for the taking.
A friend of mine approaching her mid 50s has recently moved house and suburbs just after her children moved out of home.
“In between juggling work commitments and caring for my parents who aren’t well, I haven’t had time to meet the locals. And now that we don’t have children to run around, interacting with other people locally is entirely on us now,” she said.
Another friend who is approaching 60 shared that while the pub and club scene is no longer on his social calendar because he’s ‘too tall and a little deaf to enjoy crowd conversations’, meeting women for friendship has got easier!
“Being tall and funny and blessed with an easy Irish charm works for me,” he said.
While he hasn’t observed any decline in social opportunities, he is about to embark on a career change to future proof his income.
“In my industry, those of us that are ‘more mature’ just aren’t attracting the sales leads in that we need to survive,” he said.
5 ways to make new friends when you’re over 55
If you’re keen to keep your social calendar full, here are some tips on how to meet new friends when you’re heading toward 60 or over.
Reignite your existing friendships
I am guilty of not doing this one well. Neglecting to reach out to good, reliable friends is a missed opportunity when it is the easiest way to fill your social calendar.
If it has been a while in between catching up with friends, start scheduling dates in to your calendar today. Ten friendships, is an entire year of monthly catch ups when you take out the silly festive season!
Meet like minded book lovers at a book club
Joining a local book club is a great way to meet new people that share your love of literature as well as keeping you committed to finding new books, and finishing reading them!
Most local shire council websites or local libraries will have links to local book clubs. Alternatively, start your own! If you like the idea of kicking off a local book club but want help to get started or want to search for an existing one, visit CAE Book Groups.
If you’re more physically inclined, joining a local walking or hiking club, or sporting community will achieve great social and fitness outcomes.
Move to a community where socialising is easy
By the time children find their independence and move out of home, the familiarity of the area you raised your family in has usually shifted around you. If you’re finding yourself living in an area where you no longer know your neighbours or the people in your street, perhaps it’s time to research and plan for a change of location.
Depending on where you are with your retirement planning, a retirement village can be a great place to thrive socially. Our RCA retirement villages attract active, independent over 55s that are keen to connect with other residents around social events, hobbies and sporting activities.
Visit www.wyndhamgrange.com.au as one example.
Learn something new, locally
Keep your mind active and meet new people by enrolling in a group workshop or course to refine an existing skill, or learn a new one.
Explore your local community for privately run group workshops – perhaps learn how to make salami, smoke a ham, learn digital photography or brew beer – or visit your local shire council’s website to see what community learning opportunities may be on offer.
And, its never too late for university studies. Most universities will offer a range of alternative entry options to assist those that haven't studied for some time, to transition in to tertiary study.
Volunteer somewhere local to you
People who volunteer to help out charity and not-for-profit organisations play critical roles in the well-being of local communities.
Not only does volunteering give back to your community, it is a fantastic way to stay mentally and socially active. You’ll meet people who are equally passionate about giving their time for good community outcomes.
Explore your local shire council website to find out about local organisations that rely on volunteer participation, or visit Seek Volunteer.
Even if you are working full time, there may be voluntary opportunities that your employer would support you participating in. Once a year events that rely on volunteer support are another avenue to contribute and meet new people.