Where to meet and make friends after 65

Nov 22, 2011, 8:39 a.m.

Whatever your situation may be--a recent retirement, loss of a spouse or friend, or relocation to a senior living community or new city--you have found yourself looking for new friends. There are countless social and emotional benefits of friendship, and studies have even shown that fulfilling friendships can be as beneficial to your health as giving up smoking.

The easiest way to make friends at any age is to pursue hobbies that you enjoy. Meeting people who share an interest betters your chances of connecting with them. Once there's a common denominator between you and someone else, you automatically have something to talk about.

Do some research and find a senior center in your community that offers programs for those in your age range. Many senior centers offer health and wellness programs, with yoga, pilates, Zumba, and aerobic classes; recreational activities, such as bingo, bridge, movie screenings, karaoke, and dance lessons; enrichment activities, like decorative painting classes and day excursions; educational classes; as well as special events, like luncheons and fairs. Find an event, class, or game night that piques your interest and sign up or go regularly. You can bond with others who may be in a similar situation who enjoy the same activities you do.

New technologies are activating social lives through the Internet, using the web to find friends and companions in your community. MeetUp.com is ideal for those looking to find a group nearby to join. The site lists a vast number of groups, from book clubs and ski trips to aircraft pilots and cat social events.

Another option is to find a volunteer program that fits your interests. Whether you want to help children in need by reading to them or serve meals at a soup kitchen, the only way to find the group that is a perfect match for you is by starting your search now. SmartVolunteer.org is a site that allows you to find a volunteer program that matches your skills and zip code.

When you do meet people through a class, the Internet, or a volunteer program, don't be shy to ask them to get a cup of coffee or some lunch after your meet-up. Many people that are active in these groups are in similar situations, having just moved or being newly retired, and are looking for new friends, too.

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