Sex & Relationships

Never too Old For New Friends


Relationships are vital for seniors in maintaining a vibrant life, but they can become increasingly difficult as we grow older. Friends and family relocate and pass away, we may be stressed with caregiving responsibilities, and medical issues can arise. Regardless of age, close relationships remain critical for our physical, mental and emotional health. Social isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of mortality, falls, and re-hospitalization among older adults.

What can you do to stay engaged and active as you grow older?

•Volunteer: Freely offering your time and skills can decrease social isolation and feelings of loneliness. This experience is an opportunity to channel energy and challenges into something constructive and meaningful.  

•Get Involved: Join a local committee, civic organization, or become active in your neighborhood association and city council. Get political and advocate for a cause.

•Prioritize Engagement: Recognize that your mental health and well-being is equally as important as your physical health. Say yes to invitations, and be open to meeting different people from all walks of life. Your new friend could be younger or older than you. Cultivate a positive, curious outlook, and don’t be afraid to strike up conversations.

•Keep Learning: Embracing learning helps promote well-being and create opportunities for socialization through classes and discussion. Many universities allow seniors to audit classes for free or for a reduced rate.

•Care for an Animal: Your new friend doesn’t have to live in your home. Walk dogs at an animal shelter or play with kittens, and chat with other animal-friendly volunteers.

•Adapt Social Technology: Learn about social media/technology so that you can connect with new people online, friends and family, and join Meetup Groups. 

•Become a Great Listener: Sincerely listening to someone can be rare. Be a good listener and fully take in what someone is sharing with you. Truly listening leads to valuable friendships. 

•Take Part in Activities at the Local Library/Join a Book Club: Libraries often a wide range of fun classes, speakers, and clubs for you to choose from.

•It Takes a Village: Join a Village near you that supports aging in the community- connect with the national Village to Village Network.

•Faith Communities: Contact local churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations as they offer activities and opportunities for socialization.

•Pursue your Passions: Encouraging hobbies and activities is crucial to remaining engaged in the everyday. What do you love to do? Pursue it, and this will spark conversations with like-minded people. 

Remaining curious about the world, about learning, and about others is a powerful way to stay engaged. Seniors who venture out of their comfort zones, take risks, and try activities they never attempted before are less likely to succumb to the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness. The next time you are feeling lonely, try taking one small step. You can do it.

Biography: Sherry Saturno is the Executive Director of Gramatan Village. She is dually licensed as a Nursing Home Administrator and Clinical Social Worker, and holds Master’s degrees from Columbia and Long Island Universities. She is a Fellow at the National Academies of Practice, and graduated from a national fellowship at NYU Silver School of Social Work. She is the host and producer of Reimagine Aging Podcast, and wrote and produced a short documentary film, Human Investment.


15 responses to “Never too Old For New Friends

  1. I am a 68 year old female. Soon to be 69. I buried my husband 15 years ago. I have had no one but my one son since then.All my kids are in their 40’s. I think I have finally come alive .I am tired of being lonely. My husband would have said a long time ago life goes on after death. My kids and my friends all say go for it.

  2. i am a senior female been alone now for nearly a year married for 60 years feeling pretty lost waiting to turn the page next chapter so to speak i am small in stature but big in heart i dont let the grass grow under my feet i love travel and music i.m talking 50tis 60tis music not classical i like reno work with property still got lots of idea,s dreams and asperations like to travel back to old blighty from whense i came some 40 years ago hoping to travel next spring is there anybody out there …….

  3. I’m a 74 man looking to met a nice Lady meet to do things with and just have some fun with.
    You must also like my CAT She is a little Bobtail kitten named Grace. She is a wonderful little
    kitty shy butt & Loving. If you don’t like my little kittens I Won’t like you. I’m sorry if this sounds
    harsh but I’ve had her a for a long time now and won’t let anything come between us or anyone
    that I’m a friend of and that includes you to. I’m old time and can’t do anything about it!!

  4. im 45 but have a lot of health issues and vision impairment so that getting around is very hard. i dont feel like its safe for me to drive. my kids are teens that although 2 still live with me are busy with school, jobs, and friends and im alone most of the time with no way to get out and dont have any friends because of some unusual circumstances involving religion that im no longer a member of. and a divorce almost a year ago and have had depression for most of my life. and i live in a rural area with no public transportation. i want friends and iget along with people but without mobility i cant connect with others and im desperate for help. im so unhappy right now and i dont know what to do.

    1. Kara,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

      Perhaps, an online forum will be helpful to you in that you may be able to talk with others there or find out about other online places, since it seems difficult for you to travel now. I don’t know if Facebook has such groups or not Maybe a chat forum – I don’t know that much about social media offerings, but I would recommend do some research using search engines. Also, maybe talking with a librarian – research librarians are at some libraries, I think – could be helpful along these lines.

      I hope this is helpful.

    2. Hi Kara
      I’m quite a bit older than you, retired, have a mobility impairment so i don”t get to go out much without help. I still drive but don’t have enough strength to lift my wheelchair in/out of the trunk by myself and a walker is only good for short distances. Although I live with family I’m still lonely and get depressed a lot. I moved to a rural area many years ago and most of my friends still live in NYC. It’s almost impossible to make new friends when you’re confined to your home in the country. Regardless of what you read on line, finding friends on line is not easy. And, chatting with people on the internet isn’t the answer either. What’s needed are community club houses where people of all ages are welcomed to attend for socialization, coffee, games, luncheons, etc. Must towns have senior citizen centers that are opened a few hours a day but not everyone seeking friends are seniors. I wish you well.

    3. I know this is late, but I hope you see it. First thought, find a ride service that can take you to Meet-ups. Most towns have Meet-ups…? Look on the internet. Another thought is to move to a condo in a town or city where there is public transportation. I had a year of disability around your age and I understand the loneliness when you can’t get out. I coldn’t move! Thought I’d lost my mind. My go-to philosophy was gratitude. As in “at least I am not a Syrian refugee…” Good luck to you…..

    4. Kara.
      Sad to read snout your health! I too, have multiple health conditions and am visually impaired with a rare eye disorder. Life is a challenge!
      Go on-line to the Foundation For Fighting Blindness. Lots of info plus there are chapters in some cities that have meetings for support and events dealing with vision loss.
      Rural living can be wonderful, however very hard when you have health problems!! How about friends to take you to doctor appts grocery stores? Sometimes , you can go online and find service groups that give rides to those that are visually impaired also adult education sometime have a visually impaired group for support, friendship and help .
      Feeling alone and depressed seems to come with poor health and personal problems
      It’s very overwhelming!!

  5. My first seven years of retirement was devoted to volunteering and helping those less fortunate than myself. When I relocated to Virginia, I promised myself that I would join a Pilates class and learn to line dance. Both are great for the mind, body and soul. And I have made lots of new friends.

  6. If you’re lucky enough to live in a community that has an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) or other lifelong learning organization nearby, you’ll find opportunities for the first four on this list there. And all are great ways to make new friendships.

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