The Importance of Building Relationships and Making Friends in Senior Living Retirement Communities
Published on June 18, 2021
Moving into a retirement community can be an adjustment for a lot of seniors who are used to living alone in their own homes or with family members. It can be especially nerve wracking when it comes time to make friends with fellow Community Members who have been living in the community for a long period of time.
Each Community Member has unique habits and personalities that newcomers will have to get accustomed to. As long as you make the effort to get to know your neighbours, however, they’re likely to reciprocate the sentiment in their own way.
The Benefits of Making Friends in Retirement and Senior Living Communities
Senior living in retirement communities is designed to not be a lonely experience. There are actually a lot of opportunities for seniors to socialize and make great friends with common interests. From enjoying meals together in the dining areas to taking classes, exercising, and participating in various activities, there are many benefits to making friends in retirement senior living communities, including:
Having peers to enjoy activities with
Improving mental and physical health
Feeling like you are part of a community
Feeling connected to other people
Being able to share your life with other people, and
Increasing cognitive functions
Tips for Building Strong Friendships with Fellow Community Members
Making friends in a completely new environment can be difficult, especially when everyone else already seems to know one another and you’re the odd one out. But it doesn’t have to be that way every time you enter into a new situation. Becoming social in a retirement community can actually be a lot easier than you might think. It all starts with introducing yourself, showing an interest in other people’s interests, and making a genuine effort to get to know other people.
Here are a few useful tips for making new friends in senior living communities.
Communicate and Socialize Verbally
The first thing you should do once you’ve settled into your new living accommodations is take the time to get to know your neighbours. Introduce yourself when you see them in the hallway and make friendly conversation. Signing up for some classes and group activities is also a great way to make new friends with common interests. Greet everyone you come across in the hallways and public spaces, so they know you’re a friendly and approachable person.
Get Involved in the Community
There’s no better way to get to know your neighbours than by getting involved in community initiatives. That could be participating in group activities, signing up for group outings, doing volunteer work, going for walks with your new friends, and so much more. Participate in the plethora of activities that are offered by senior living retirement communities and try to make time to get outside of your living quarters as much as possible. After all, no one will be able to see or meet you if you’re cooped up in your suite all the time.
Respect People’s Personal Space
Keep in mind that other people value their privacy and personal space just as much as you value yours. Know when to approach people and when to give them some space. Sometimes, people need a good friend to “bend an ear” and other times they want to be left alone. Overstepping these boundaries can sometimes lead to some uncomfortable situations. Listen to other people when they tell you what they need and take the time to voice your own concerns regarding personal space and privacy as well.
Proactively Welcome Newcomers
Everyone in a retirement community was a newcomer at some point. Show the same kindness to your new neighbours that you desired when you were the new person moving in. This will make a world of difference in their lives and make the transition to their new living accommodations a lot easier. It’ll show them that they have at least one friendly face in the community. Offer to show newcomers the ropes, so that they can seamlessly adjust to senior living in their new retirement community. Ask about their interests and see if there are any classes or group activities that you can partake in together.
Understand that different people come from all walks of life and that it’s important to always keep an open mind when someone new moves into your retirement community. Seniors live long and storied lives. Some experiences may be the same, similar, or entirely different than yours. Whether you have a lot or nothing in common with your neighbours, it’s important to show empathy and kindness. Those are the foundations of long lasting and mutually respectful friendships.
Share Experiences, Ideas, and Hobbies
Do you enjoy reading a good book in your spare time? Are you a great baker? Do you have a penchant for gardening? Sharing your interests and hobbies is a great way to form meaningful connections with other people. You might even be able to teach your new friend something new and vice versa. Only when we open our hearts and our minds to new possibilities can we be enlightened. You probably have a lot of fascinating stories to tell and so do your new friends. So why not share them with one another? You can spend some time laughing and reminiscing about the good old days as you enjoy one of your many hobbies together.
How V!VA Retirement Communities Encourages Senior Living Friendships and Relationships
At V!VA Retirement Communities, we encourage our Community Members to take the time to get to know one another through various group activities and shared experiences. We offer dance lessons, cooking classes, exercise classes, gardening time, and a variety of wellness amenities for our Community Members to enjoy spending time together or alone. Sharing these experiences is part of our core values. Contact us today to book a full tour of one of our locations across Ontario.