How to Make Friends Over 80
I have seen how difficult it is to make friends up close and personal with many of my clients who are over 80. Making friends after 80 isn’t as easy as it may seem. Sure, they do not work and there are many senior friendly locations they can go. The truth is that many of the lonely ones are the ones that didn’t easily make friends when they were younger and really could benefit from them now. If they didn’t practice that socializing muscle in their youth finding the ability to do it over 80 is scary.
I spend a lot of time talking to seniors who report feeling lonely. They tell me that putting themselves out there has been difficult. They feel awkward and often have given up. So how do you teach the proverbial old dog new tricks? Well the tricks are not new but the old dog using them hasn’t had to do it. Let’s practice a few of them now.
1. Can you recall going to Kindergarten? The best book I recommend for a senior to learn to make friends is from the book, All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Making friends is as easy as offering a cookie and some conversation.
2. Another great tip I recently learned from an active senior that was lonely, make a business card with your contact information. This will make it easier to introduce to complete strangers and helpful in making a connection.
3. Pay attention to other people’s needs. When you are lonely it is easy to get self-absorbed. With a little effort you may notice others sitting alone or doing something you would have in common. I can guarantee you that you are not the only one feeling alone. Take a chance by watching and approaching with caution.
4. Smile. The best way to allow someone in is simply opening yourself up to the opportunity. The first place to start is by smiling. This allows you to be approachable. You will feel better by the simple act as well. And you may not make a friend the moment you smile but you most certainly will not make an enemy.
5. Search for activities you genuinely like. You do not have to go to just 80 plus activities either.
a. I have learned that an 85 year old active skier still goes to the slopes to visit with others who love this sport as much as he does. People know his name around the hill and go out of their way to say hello and match him with others who are needing tips.
b. A former 90 year old school teacher decided to hang out at an activity center where people often read books. She would bring many that she had already read and offer them out. Many people, myself included benefited from her kindness.
c. A 97 year old female who had recently learned about texting on a smart phone hung out at the local senior center and walked her peers through texting.