It’s tough to be the new “kid” on the block, but making friends can be just like riding a bike – if you have the right tools. What your loved one may be missing in their toolbox is opportunity. Do they have access to activities that will help them meet people with similar life experiences? And are these activities easy for them to take part in? If your loved one is new to senior living and is looking to meet new people, here are some refreshers to share with them, so they can make and keep friendships more easily.
Participate in Group Activities. At most thriving senior communities, there are a ton of group activities that residents can do on a weekly (or even daily) basis. At UMC at Pitman, some of our crowd favorites include group meditation, morning yoga, art classes, and themed days like “Root Beer Float Day” and “Pajama Day.” Even if the group activity isn’t your loved one’s cup of tea, encourage them to go anyways. For one, they could laugh with another resident over their mutual dislike of the activity, or they might be surprised at how much they actually like it after giving it a fair shot. Either way, reiterate to your loved one that the opportunity to meet new people in the community is more important than the actual group activity itself.
Join a Club. Once your loved one finds a hobby offered at the community that they enjoy, tell them to join a club. For example, if mom loves to garden, have her join the gardening club. If dad enjoys playing poker, but there is no poker club available at their assisted living community, ask an activities director on site if they can set one up. Since activity directors cultivate great relationships with each resident, they should be able to gather a group of like-minded individuals to join the club more easily.
Make Mealtimes More Social. Food has a way of bringing people together. It’s one of the best ways to bond and connect with someone new – that’s why most first dates take place at a restaurant or coffee shop. Luckily, most senior living communities, like UMC at Pitman, have a spacious shared dining area right on-site where residents can eat together. Next time you talk to your senior parent and see they’re about ready to have lunch, encourage them to share a meal with another resident in the community dining room.
Accompany Them. If your loved one is the shy type, go with them to their next group activity or event. Having you there with them will give them more confidence to talk to new people. You can also break the ice between them and a resident who you think they may have a lot in common with.
Have Patience. Remind mom or dad that it takes time to make friends, and it may take just a little bit longer to make a good friend. While they are still adjusting to their new life in a senior community, it’s important that they don’t put too much pressure on themselves to fit in. There is plenty of time to get involved with group activities, dine with residents and just to stop and have a small chat with someone they pass by in the hallway. Before they know it, those small pleasantries will turn into longer and more meaningful talks with people they truly consider friends.
Socializing at UMC at Pitman
UMC at Pitman, our assisted living community in Gloucester County, provides many opportunities for seniors to make new friends and socialize while receiving the support they need. Our caring associates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support with daily tasks, including getting dressed for the day, cleaning up the apartment, and managing medications for your loved one. They could also recommend the best spots on-site to meet new people, as well as fun activities to participate in!
For more information on our assisted living services and senior events in Pitman, NJ, please give us a call or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/pitman/
This blog was originally published https://umcommunities.org/pitman/blog/how-to-make-and-keep-friends-as-a-senior/