Your children and their spouses are busy with job promotions and mortgages. The grandkids are sweet, but there’s only so much Big Bird that you can tolerate. Your circle of senior friends is feeling a little small, and weekends have gotten stale. It’s time for a change.
Where do you meet people who are at your stage in life? If you’re retired, or planning for aging in place, you still want a social scene, and you’ll need to look farther afield than college or the workplace. However, the graying of America means that there are plenty of seniors out there in the same boat as you. You can find them in classes, clubs, and societies for other people north of 60 or so. These give you a chance to have fun, learn something new, and build a friendship along the way. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.
This is arguably your fastest option. Just open a browser or sign in to your favorite social media platform and do a quick search. The groups you find online vary widely, from small and close to big and busy. You may need to try a few before you find a group that you mesh with. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of options just a quick search away.
Stuck? Check out Facebook and Meetup. You’ll find a wide variety of groups here, from Broadway appreciation to winery tours to poker nights.
Interested in getting fit and getting a mood boost from the sunshine as you meet people? Many of these opportunities aren’t specifically tailored for seniors. However, mostly older generations show up during working or school hours. A few ideas here include walking clubs or a city tour, trying your hand at non-pro-level golfing, and getting adventurous with a Tai Chi or Yoga class in the park.
Check out your local community gardens; many gardens welcome volunteers. You can help keep the landscaping looking great, or keep up with weeding and harvesting any crops. Good food and good people, for a great cause.
Take a Class
Taking a class is a great, low-pressure way to get to know other people. If conversation stalls, you can avoid awkwardness by going back to the lesson.
Your senior center or community center may offer a variety of classes for everything from Indian cooking to beginner ballroom dancing. These places may also offer game nights like bingo night, chess or crossword puzzle races.
Many fitness centers also offer classes for seniors. Highly trained staff can walk you through the exercises and help you adapt them to your fitness levels and health issues. You may be too out of breath during the class to make friends, but you can bond with others in the sauna about what the instructors just put you through!
Remember to clear any new fitness program with your doctor beforehand, and don’t let a newly discovered sense of youth override the sensible precautions of aging. If you attend a house of worship, these places often have groups specifically for seniors. There, you and like-minded people can participate in book clubs, community outreach programs, etc.
Teach a Class
Instead of listening to an instructor, why not try your hand at being one? After all, you’ve spent decades developing a wealth of skills and inside knowledge that could be shared. You can teach class virtually via Zoom or on platforms like Skillshare. For in-person instruction, ask at your local community center or put up fliers around the neighborhood and host the class in your backyard.
Volunteer groups usually have the problem with many of their volunteers only available for a few hours in the evenings or weekends. Retired seniors can help out during the daytime business hours. This is an opportunity to meet other older adults who share your passion for making a difference.
The Senior Corps is a branch of the Corporation for National and Community Service. They do a lot to connect older people to their communities. This includes book drives, grocery delivery, and supporting neighborhoods after natural disasters.
AARP also has a number of volunteer efforts. Many of them are not physically strenuous and may be a good fit for seniors with mobility or pain issues. For instance, depending on your interests and skills, you could help children learn to read, or connect veterans and their families to much needed community resources.
Join a Senior Society
One of the best known groups is the all-woman Red Hat Society, which is all about aging playfully. This is a broad-reach group that may have several chapters in the same city. Each chapter has its own focus. For example, if you aren’t interested in shopping tours, you could find a chapter for Saturday night dancing.
What about a men’s group? A newer, growing organization is Retired Older Men Eating Out, or ROMEO. Here, senior men hang out at a restaurant, bar or cafe to meet new people, chat and support each other. Many ROMEO groups are based around a certain location. However, some have a special focus such as for former military service members.
Build a Fuller Life Through Friendships
If you want to expand your social circle and start building new friendships, look around you or look online. Opportunities abound, from Meetup groups to volunteering to dropping by the community gardens. If one group isn’t a fit, look again! You’ll meet people who will enrich your life while you’re learning new hobbies and making tomorrow a little brighter than today.