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5 ways to make friends in retirement

15th February 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Inevitably, as we get older it can be hard to keep up old friendships and the thought of meeting new people can be a bit daunting, but you’re never too old to make some new connections, so follow our guide to being a social butterfly in retirement.

We ask age awareness experts Love for the Elderly and Oddfellows for their top tips to making friends in retirement.

Stay connected

Keeping up with old friends can seem like a challenge, especially if your movement has declined over the years, but this shouldn’t stop you from extending an invitation and getting back in touch. If meeting friends out and about has become difficult, Love for The Elderly suggests “Just calling up a few old pals on the phone and inviting them over can be a really great way to socialise with others.

People like to feel needed and showing that you still appreciate their advice can be a way to bring you closer to your friends. Ask for help. Your friends will likely be pleased that you still want to turn to them for support, so whether you need muscle to get your groceries home or some guidance in sourcing advice, don’t be scared to ask for help. No doubt, you’ll be able to return the favour in the future.

Oddfellows, one of the largest and oldest friendly societies in the UK, believes that you shouldn’t take friendship for granted. Fixing dates in the calendar for a catch up or being there as a shoulder to cry on when they’re going through a rough patch is all part of securing a solid friendship for years to come.

Oddfellows adds: “You have to invest time in your friends and if you think you don’t need to do anything, you almost certainly do! It all starts with a positive decision to change your state of mind and take control.

Take up a new hobby

For many, retirement with its freedom can leave us feeling lost as our daily routine and structure become a thing of the past. With all this available time, some become lonely without preoccupation. Love for the Elderly explains: “There are less opportunities for social gatherings without seeing your fellow co-workers each day, and disconnection from others becomes prevalent.”

Finding that sense of order again and generally just being busy makes us feel more inclined to be active, and when we get out and about, we’re more likely to meet people.

Taking up a hobby, attending a workshop class or studying a new course are fantastic ways to meet like-minded people and fill your days. These environments are also a safe place where you can get to know others and boost your confidence in making new acquaintances of all backgrounds and ages. As Oddfellows says: “Just because you’re retired, you don’t have to spend time with only older people, meeting people from different generations and backgrounds is a really good way to make friends. You may have a skill to pass on to someone else too – mentoring younger people can be a great way to get more social and increase your self-esteem.”

Change your approach

Changing a few small details in your day could help you meet new people. Anything from taking a different route to the shops to starting a conversation with the person sat at the other end of the bench in the park, offer a slight variation and you never know, you might strike up a conversation with a potential new friend. Oddfellows says changing the simple things can help to “Broaden your horizons by being flexible and adapting to social situations around you. Not only will you be more open and social but you may just discover something new about yourself – liberate yourself.

Put pen to paper

Similarly you can mix up how you reach out to those nearest and dearest to your heart.

When you’re young and busy chasing a career goal or raising your family, it’s all too easy to lose touch with friends far away, but as you get older and a little wiser, those friendships become increasingly valuable. It’s never too late to send a letter or notecard letting them know you care.

Fill a few hours on a long evening with some letter writing, sit at your rise recliner chair, put pen to paper and reminisce about the memories the two of you share.

In fact, Love for the Elderly was founded to help provide happiness to the elderly in the form of a written note. Today, people from all over the world can write a letter anonymously, offering a kind thought to someone elderly as they get delivered to various nursing homes, hospices and assisted living facilities

Be confident

People are naturally drawn to friendly, happy and confident sorts. For the shy amongst us, it can take a lot to make us feel brave in new social situations, but mustering a bit of courage and developing a good impression of yourself can only help to make others want to get to know you.

It’s normal to be self-critical, but Oddfellows suggests writing down the top three things you love most about yourself and your abilities. Refer back to these when you need a confidence boost, over time they’ll help you to build up positive affirmation that will make you glow in new social environments.

If you’re ready to get out there and meet other like-minded people, Oddfellows has over 147 branches in the UK where visitors can find everything from advice services to an array of events such as coffee mornings, supper clubs and local trips – perfect for making new friends.

Relationships help to enrich our lives and at a point in your life where you finally have time to spend enjoying friendships, make the most of every opportunity to befriend someone new.

Image Credit: Michael Cohen (flickr.com)