Advantages of New Friendships for Active Sixty-Fivers
Sure, old friends are the best, but there is always space for new friendship in a new season of life. Many people over 65 have retired and relocated to be closer to the children and grandchildren; and in some cases, to take care of aged parents.
Some are still part of the workforce, many of them managing their own businesses, but they are slowing down to enjoy life more intentionally than in the previous years. Some may still desire dating relationships, but since that is not necessarily the case, this article will consider friendship in general.
From a ten-year study on friendships among seniors, Dr. Dawn Marcus, neurologist, contributes two impressive points:
(1) "Having social interactions with friends provided a greater effect than interactions with family members."
(2) "Older people who are more socially engaged also develop fewer memory problems. . . Good mental capacity was maintained best in those people who were the most socially active."
Share the Present
Even if they lived in the same area for a long time, turning sixty-five brings people into new places and situations. Perhaps for the first time they visit the social security office, or attend a lecture on Medicaid benefits, or sign up for seniors’ discounts at the neighborhood cafeteria. They meet new people and realize that working together through the process is better than doing it alone. They exchange phone numbers and enjoy communicating with each other—like friends. Before very long, they think of the new person when it is time to watch a movie, or take a walk in the park, or plan a weekend getaway. After 65, the emphasis is less on making a living, and more on enjoying the life they have. Sharing the present joys with a new friend is often the answer to maximizing the pleasure.
Share the Past
After 65, it becomes quite a habit to repeat the stories of yesteryear. Not just personal stories; they also recall historical incidents they experienced. Having a new friend share different perspectives on the same event validates the experience for both of them. The following are few of the many happenings sixty-fivers and their friends may remember:
- The opening of K-Mart and Wal-Mart (1962);
- The US landing on the moon and Woodstock (1969);
- The end of the Vietnam War (1975); they may also debate when it began.
During their busy lives, sixty-fivers neglected some of their dreams. Those dreams awaken when they meet new friends with skills they wanted to learn, but never had the chance. Imagine a sixty-fiver meeting a new friend who loves to share conversational French, the language the other now has the time to learn; or meeting one who plays the guitar and wants a partner for a duet number; chances are the other already plays the keyboard so they can help each other learn new skills. No loneliness or boredom for these friends.
Friends who live in the same area can look out for each other. They can share news and warnings about scams and other criminal activities against seniors; and they can share tips for survival. Friends who live alone may need advice on alarm systems, security lights and even where to keep their keys. One important way senior friends can help each other is to monitor bill payments and credit card activities for the less able. Also important is a telephone call every day for an update on health status, and the daily whereabouts. Even seniors who are strong and healthy find simple benefits in a daily call from a friend.
“A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.” (AllExperts). Sounds like a prescription for seniors, especially for those who need an exercise substitute. Laughter also relieves pain and increases immunity. Seniors need it. Many of them acquire the ability to laugh at themselves. It seems that Margaret Daniels did. The inscription on her grave (Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia) reads: “She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her.” (Humor Matters)
At some point, the old and new friends may show up for the same celebration by invitation from the mutual friend. What a happy experience meeting and spending time with the friend of a friend!
After 65, some friendships diminish because of relocation and some disappear through loss by death. It is difficult to make new friends, and even acquaintances become precious when they are introduced by a trustworthy friend. Seniors are also learning to make and share new friends, while staying in touch with old ones through social media.
Making friends is part of a healthy lifestyle - a part to which there is no age limit. After 65, life and health continue with even more meaning than before.
Friends Over 65?
How likely are you to make new friends among the over 65 population?
Friendship Sites for Braver Seniors
- Senior Chat Rooms & Over 50s Online Chatting Website
A safe senior chat online community dedicated to the over 50s. Building genuine, worldwide friendships has never been safer.
- Senior Pen Pals - find one!
I wish you many new senior pen pals that perk up your daily life and they will!
© 2013 Dora Weithers