Moving into an assisted living community can feel like going back to school. You're learning where the dining hall is, checking out the activities and meeting new people. Having a circle of friends can help combat loneliness, which can often be an issue for older adults. But it can feel intimidating to develop friendships, especially if it seems like everyone already has a group of friends. These tips will help you meet new people and potentially make lasting friendships in your assisted living community.
Assisted living communities under the Bethesda Senior Living umbrella feature restaurant-style dining options, which offer the ideal way to meet new people. Instead of eating in your room, enjoy your meals in the dining room. Look for a table with an open spot and introduce yourself, or invite others to sit with you. You might find a regular group of people to dine with, or you can sit with different people at every meal to meet as many people as possible.
Don't be shy when you're out and about in the community. When you're walking to or from your assisted living apartment and see someone else, greet them with a smile and an introduction. If you're up to it, knock on the doors of your neighbors and introduce yourself. You can bring them a little treat or simply show up with a friendly hello. If you start with people who live close to you, you'll likely run into them often when you're coming and going so you can have ongoing conversations with them.
Assisted living communities give you a built-in way to meet new people: the activity calendar. Most communities offer at least one activity daily and often multiple activities every day. Because these activities are planned for community members, you'll meet lots of people who live alongside you. Plus, you'll have fun doing whatever activities you choose to keep from getting bored. They typically cover a wide variety of interests with options like classes, Bible study groups, speakers and entertainment. Many communities also plan off-site outings you can enjoy with your neighbors.
It's easier to meet new friends when you spend lots of time outside your assisted living apartment. Most communities have lots of shared areas, such as chapels, libraries, computer centers, game rooms, outdoor patios and landscaped areas. Pick a favorite spot and spend some time there. You might sip your coffee on the shared patio or read a book in the library. When other residents use those spaces, you can strike up a conversation.
It's not always easy to be the person who makes the first move in dating or in friendship. However, putting yourself out there is often necessary to meet new people. Being friendly, smiling and saying hi to people you see around the community can help. Start a conversation with another resident during events, or invite someone you've seen around the community to grab coffee with you. Some people might not be as open or friendly, but your efforts could help you meet your future best friend.
The staff is there to help you with your daily care needs, but they can also be a resource for meeting new people. Chatting with the staff can help ease some of your loneliness. It also gives them a chance to learn more about you, including your background and interests. They might think of another resident who has similar interests or might be an interesting person for you to meet.
As you start meeting people, you'll likely become familiar with some of the residents, but developing a true friendship can take more work. Plan a social event in your apartment to get to know people better. Game nights, movie nights and dinner parties are good examples. You can invite just one person or a small group of people. Plan some fun activities and create an inviting atmosphere to help your guests feel welcome.
Who says your new friends have to live in the same community? It's convenient to befriend fellow residents, but you might also find strong friendship connections when you venture outside the assisted living community. For instance, you might find a local church family where you can meet other seniors with similar values. Churches often have Bible study groups, support groups and interest groups where you might find other older adults.
Look for nearby senior centers or organizations that offer classes for seniors. This is a good way to do something fun that interests you while also meeting other older adults. You might check out a local gym that offers senior exercise classes to stay fit and socialize. You can also try spots like coffee shops, libraries, art galleries and other local stops that interest you where you could meet others with similar interests. Volunteering at a local nonprofit is another way to meet people with similar interests while helping out the community.