Everybody needs a good friend, a shoulder to cry on and someone that “has their back.” This is even more true as we get older. Many different types of studies have demonstrated the importance of friendship later in life. In fact, having close friends may be as important as family ties in predicting psychological well-being in adulthood and old age, according to an article in Innovations in Aging.  The same article also indicates relational closeness and social support are likewise important for maintaining cognitive functioning and physical health.

Don’t forget, nobody is too old to have a best friend or to make brand new ones. Here are some tips to meet your squad, your BFF, your pal and your confidant:

  • Look for volunteer opportunities. Having some extra time, particularly in retirement, opens up more options to give back to the community. Not only will you likely feel good about giving something to those in need, volunteering can also be a great way to bond with others that share your interests.
  • See what’s happening at the local library. Most community libraries have more than just books to borrow and are also hubs for free or discounted programming for people of all ages. For example, according to the American Library Association, there are some libraries that provide computer classes, opportunities for lifelong learning, and even gaming.
  • Take a tour. There are several companies that offer tours to destinations across the globe. Making memories by dining and exploring together in a new place can result in friendships for years to come.
  • Try something new or revisit favorite hobbies. Always wanted to learn how to paint like Monet? Or try salsa dancing? Whip up a new recipe? Or catch a matinee? Local organizations, community centers, and community colleges may offer programming for adults. Modern senior living communities, like those by Brookdale Senior Living, can also provide a wide range of activities for its residents. Evoking some of the good feelings that summer camp or a college campus might bring—i.e. endless ways to stay occupied while surrounded with your peers—Brookdale offers hundreds of amenities that encourage its residents to be physically active and involved with one another. Activities fit all different personality types and talents.

In addition to making close friends, living in a community with “friendly faces” that you see every day can also have its benefits. The New York Times reported on a study that found that having connections—such as a favorite bartender, other dog owners at the park, or the same people you work out with—can lead to greater happiness. So, while retiring on your own private island may seem like a dream come true, it might not make you as happy as finding a community of people to share new experiences with.   #SP

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