13+ ways to connect with other older adults
Online or in-person, many older adults feel it’s time to connect more often with their contemporaries again.
And you might not be teenagers anymore, but there’s no harm in acting like them: Make new friends. Find exciting things to do with friends you already have. Or connect online more often as you age in place.
Older adults gain many benefits by connecting with their contemporaries. Harvard Health Publishing compiled separate research that found older adults who connect often with groups of friends gain health benefits such as lower risk of depression and higher cognitive awareness. And interacting with a wider range of people offers even greater benefits: Older adults who widen the group they socialize with are more likely to be more physically active, experience more positive moods and fell less negative.
Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to connect with other older adults virtually or in-person. Here are 13-plus ways to reconnect, make new connections or broaden your online connections.
Professionals, singles and people with similar interests often “meet up” with the like-minded through business, dating and hobby apps. And there are several online apps and tools geared specifically at older adults to help them connect with each other.
Here are several:
- FRIEDA is a melting pot of connections in the Philadelphia area. You can find opportunities to meet people across generations, eat well with strangers who become friends, learn to paint, speak a different language, cook a unique meal, take a day trip or play board games.
- Friends in the City (FitC) is another Philadelphia area organization that makes connecting fun and easy. FitC maintains and supports social networks for older adults, giving them ways to plan and host activities and events. Older adults can connect with FitC, where volunteers help them connect with others who enjoy similar activities such as museums, concerts, dances, festivals and other local events.
- Meetup offers tools to help you find groups in your area and the kinds of activities they participate in – such as photography, exercise or travel.
Fortunately, you can still find lots of activity and ways to connect with other older adults through local organizations that might have taken a step back through the pandemic.
Here are four places to check – and the kinds of events and activities they offer so you can mix it up.
- Senior centers. You can look up senior centers closest to you on this locator. Most senior centers offer classes in arts, exercise and computers, to name a few. They often organize on-site social activities and field trips in your area.
- Community centers. For instance, most YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers and other community organizations like them offer exercise and educational classes geared toward older adults. Many offer seasonal activities such as gardening, holiday parties and day trips.
- Volunteer. Numerous local and national organizations need volunteers. When you get involved in a cause you care about, you’ll meet like-minded people to connect with. You can find local volunteering opportunities on search sites such as VolunteerMatch.
- Colleges. Most community colleges and universities offer courses and activities for older adults to enroll. This is another instance where you can connect with older adults with similar interests. Plus, it’s often fun and fascination to be around college-age adults! A couple in the Philadelphia area in include Temple’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Bucks County Community College and The University of Delaware.
Start your own connections
You might not be the only older adult in your circle of friends, neighborhood or in an online community who wants to reconnect. So if you’re a natural-born organizer or really eager to get back out there, consider organizing groups or events that interest you.
- Walking group. Meet in parks, the mall or your neighborhood. Walk in safe, well-light areas. Follow traffic laws.
- Crafter. If you love quilting, crafting, woodwork, etc., find others who do, too and get together to work. Even better, offer to teach others.
- Gamers. Pull together other game lovers for cards, board games, video games, etc.
- Book Club. It’s more fun to read a book when you have others who’ve read it to talk about it.
- Activities Group. Organize groups to try different activities such as putt putt golf, bowling, bird watching, etc.
- Cooking Clubs. Share a passion for food by getting together to share recipes, cook together, take cooking classes, visit restaurants – anything food-related.
- Travel local. If you like to take day adventures, you can probably find fellow older adults who do, too. You can find some great local adventures here from the leadership team at Friends LifeCare.
If you started to connect with more people online during the pandemic, you might be comfortable continuing to go with that. Nearly every in-person idea here is a possibility online, too. You can find online groups that share your interests. Most community centers, volunteer organizations and colleges offer virtual programming, either in real-time or recorded, so you can choose what works best for your schedule.
You can also set up virtual meetings – via Zoom or Skype – to craft, game, talk about books, cook – and beyond.
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