10 Ways Older Adults Can Meet New People and Make Friends in 2021
As everyone knows, 2020 and 2021 were unprecedented years. The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives in many ways, and the older population was no different.
In fact, since older adults were considered high risk, they had to take social distancing policies much more seriously, and many other avenues for communication and connection were halted or altered, leading to increased social isolation.
Even before the pandemic, for many individuals getting older means new social challenges. Many regular social interactions in the past (like going to a daily job, raising kids, or traveling) may no no longer be in place, and it can take effort to meet with people that don’t live with you.
Since the pandemic, this has only gotten more challenging, which is why it’s important for older adults and seniors to find new ways to make new friends in 2021. And the best way to do that is to find common interests, let go of the fear of trying something new, and trying some group activities!
How Older Adults Can Meet New Friends Post Pandemic
1. Book/TV/Movie Clubs
Lots of options here! Nothing gets discussions going faster than talking about something you like or dislike. Book, TV, or movie clubs can be a great way to connect with other like-minded adults and have endless items to discuss.
You can often find clubs already formed, whether at local libraries or civic centers, or even as an alumni at your university or college (virtual clubs work too). Local senior centers may also offer club options.
You can also make your own club if you have a couple of interested parties already. This works especially well even if you have friends across the country.
For example, you can have members all read the same book or watch the same movie before a meeting. Then, everyone will discuss their thoughts during the book club. Or, one member could lead the club discussing some book recommendations that the other members can read on their own, and others can chime in with their favorites books too!
Gardening is a great way to keep busy and purposeful throughout their day, especially when you have friends to share it with. Look for local co-ops, Community Gardens, or even head to your local flower and the Farm Center to see if they have any gardening activities you could join.
In addition to meeting new people, gardening is traditionally associated with lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and even boosted self esteem. Enjoy lovely scenery, a beautiful, natural scent, and find friendship in caring for something each day.
Support groups can be a great way to feel comforted, especially if there are new changes to your life you are managing. Support groups can help adults understand their feelings of loneliness and regain a sense of purpose. And by creating a safe space, they support healthy socialization and mental health.
Note: You do not need to join a specific support group. You can also join any organization or club that encourages chatting or sharing life stories and memories! Just speaking about your past is a great way to find shared experiences with others your age.
You can check out Care.com’s list of support groups for older adults that are organized by different needs and interests.
4. Virtual Activity Platforms
Live streaming activities are a great option for older adults looking to make new friends. Even if you're not the most technologically savvy, you can find live streaming options and make it easy to connect and make friends.
At Televeda, we provide monthly calendars of curated, expert-led content live streamed on our software we designed specifically for older adults.
You can play games, practice yoga, take drawing and cooking classes, and learn from experts around the world (we’ve vetted over 200 activity vendors)!
But, the most important part of our platform isn’t the content: it’s the people! We pride ourselves on having some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet as our members.
5. Keep Learning
Continuing education courses are a great option if you’re looking to keep their mind sharp, stay engaged, and meet new people. There’s nothing like a hard study session to really bond you!
But, it doesn’t have to be academic: there are many learning options available to seniors, from sewing to music lessons to language learning.
Community colleges, libraries, and other organizations often offer classes specifically geared toward those over 65. There are also many websites with online class options, and even if not all courses are free, they’ll have great free options. Enrolling in a class provides an opportunity to learn something new, meet people with shared interests, and have something to look forward to each week.
Already feel like an expert on something? Switch this option around and try teaching instead. Sign up to lead a knitting class at a local center, apply to be an online tutor, or sign up to be a mentor for local kids. You can even teach master classes on Airbnb (and make money)!
The possibilities are endless, and can help you meet a large variety of people across generations and locations.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling is the social environment! In terms of places where they’ll stay and work, seniors will find themselves around younger generations–many of which are taking gap years of their own.
This cross-generational social environment might be challenging, but research shows that two in five older adults are actively out there trying to have holidays that are “unique” or “out of the ordinary.” Bon voyage!
7. Get Online
There is more to getting online than making a profile and liking pictures. It's time to take full advantage of all that social media and online networking has to offer! Social media can be a great way to find people with similar interests, especially by utilizing "Groups" on Facebook.
From your home page, you can find "Groups" on the left side of your navigation bar. If you're on your phone, select the button with three horizontal lines. Once you get to groups you can search local groups, or just activities you enjoy such as "Dessert Recipes," or "Chocolate," (can you guess what we like?).
You can also try Meet Up or Next Door. Meetup.com allows you to start a group or meet others with similar interests in already-established groups.
Want to find people for your book club? You can go to meetup.com, type in “book clubs” and your town's name, and you'll see lots of groups, scheduled events, and other interested parties. Additionally, nextdoor.com connects you with neighbors who can help with everything from how to find local services, the best Italian food, or even finding a lost pet.
Though learning to use new technologies can be intimidating sometimes, there are resources available to help anyone accomplish this even if you’re not a technical genius (most people aren’t)! At Televeda, we help all of our members get connected quickly and efficiently.
Of course, whenever you're getting online, make sure you practice safety. You don't want to click on links from people you don't recognize, and when meeting up with anyone new, do so in a public place. Being safe online is incredibly important!
Letter writing will never go out of style! Even if this is not traditional socialization face-to-face, writing a letter offers many benefits as well.
Sometimes, it's even easier to share your thoughts and feelings one writing rather than in person or even over the phone. Really, any form of communication can be rewarding and help you feel connected — even if it’s not a live conversation.
Need some ideas to get started? Sign up as a pen pal with school children, start a book sharing chain across the country, or send out some favorite recipes to your friends. At Televeda, one of our members has sent me some of her family recipes to try!
9. Attend Religious Services
Attending religious services, whether in person or online, as another great way to find like-minded individuals. Religion can be a connecting force, and today churches, mosques and synagogues are offering online worship opportunities or discussion groups.
If you’re not religious, but have a spiritual, you can find other groups like that to join as well.
10. Meet in Person
If you are doing most of these activities online, that's great! But, it is also important to break the barrier and start meeting in person once you feel comfortable enough to do so, whether that's after you are vaccinated, or once you make one friend to join you at these activities!
As an Older Adult, How Have You Made New Friends?
Is there a way you've met new friends that isn't on this list, send us an email and let us know what to add! We always like to hear feedback on the best ways to help older adults and seniors meet new people and make connections, especially post pandemic!