Tips for Making Friends in An Independent Living Community
Joining an independent living community is an exciting opportunity to meet new people and connect with like-minded peers. Yet, making friends can be overwhelming for many older adults who just moved in and are getting used to their new home.
While forming friendships can take time, there are a few key actions you can take to deepen connections with your neighbors and integrate into the community’s network.
Whether you’re a social butterfly or you’re shy around new people, here are our favorite tips for how to meet senior friends in an independent living community.
1. Join Clubs and Classes (Even Before You Arrive!)
Sharing interests is a great foundation for friendship. Be sure to join clubs and classes that interest you, such as a paint class, yoga session or book club. This way, you’ll meet a built-in group of people and grow your relationships as the weeks go by. Make sure to attend regularly so you have the opportunity to bond closely with your group.
Some retirement communities even let you join clubs and classes before you move in, so that you see familiar faces from your very first day. Ask your community if they offer this possibility as part of your transition to independent living.
2. Check Out the Community’s Social Calendar
New arrivals can sometimes feel out of the loop of community events. Be sure to get access to your community’s social calendar, so you can identify opportunities to mix and mingle with others. Highlight the programs and outings that interest you and keep the calendar in a visible location. You won’t want to miss out on dances, game nights and other special events!
Some communities also schedule regular trips and outings, which is an excellent way to meet senior friends. Sit next to somebody new on the bus and connect with others going on the same excursion as you.
3. Explore Common Areas
It’s challenging to meet new people if you’re inside your apartment all day. Take advantage of your community’s common areas to make friends. You can explore outdoor gardens, TV lounges or game rooms in order to meet people.
There’s no need to wait for a planned event to head down to common areas. Bring an activity you would otherwise be doing in your apartment – reading a book, knitting, doing a jigsaw puzzle, having a coffee, etc. – and simply sit down in a comfy spot in the community. This will give you a chance to connect with others nearby and start a conversation.
4. Use Mealtime to Socialize
Meals are a great opportunity to meet senior friends and deepen connections. A few ways to take advantage of mealtime include:
- Invite people you met during the day to eat with you
- Choose to sit next to somebody who’s alone
- Change tables, so you’re always interacting with new people
In this way, you’ll be able to chat over a meal and get to know other residents without the pressure of a formal event.
5. Seek Out New Residents Like You
Another strategy for making friends in independent living is to identify new residents like you. Ask around and look for newbies so you can band together and explore the community with a buddy.
For new residents that arrive after you, this is a nice chance to become a resident ambassador and welcome them into the community and form a friendship.
6. Get to Know The Community’s Team
Having a good relationship with the community staff is great for your overall experience, as well as making friends. Team members can help introduce you to residents who share your hobbies or background, or suggest activities that might interest you. Get to know the staff and you may be pleasantly surprised when their recommendations lead to a new friend or passion.
7. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Whenever possible, try to stay open-minded and step out of your comfort zone – especially in those first critical months of moving in. Greet everyone in the hallways, sign up for an activity and be willing to have new experiences. With a positive, can-do attitude, you’ll find it’s much easier to engage with others and meet senior friends.
8. Be Patient and Optimistic
Of course, making lasting friendships takes time. Give yourself the space to try out programs and meet a variety of people. There’s no such thing as instant friendship, so work on building your connections over time. It’s amazing how far a smile can go when getting to know people, so be optimistic as you meet your new neighbors.
Connect With Community at Park Place
Making friends is one of the most exciting prospects of independent living. Instead of feeling lonely at home, you have a whole community of peers to get to know. Take advantage of the social opportunities around you with our tips on how to meet senior friends. In no time, you’ll feel connected to your new home and have a bustling social life at Park Place.
Learn more about how Park Place builds community and ensures the social health of our residents. Get in touch with our team with our online form.