Social connections can be a key ingredient in maintaining happiness and with one in four Australian households claiming to live in a lone-person household, it is so important to stay socially connected. With the likelihood of living alone increasing with age, we at Freedom Aged Care have put together a variety of suggestions for forging new social connections and strengthening existing ones.
Making a new friend
Forging a new friendship can be challenging. However, there are many avenues that some never consider. Online relationships can be platonic or romantic depending on the platform you use and the relationship you contribute to creating. For example, online forums, chatrooms and social networking relationships (e.g. Facebook friends) can begin through common interests, disinterests or shared acquaintances. Gaming apps like Words with Friends, which allows users to play existing friends or challenge online opponents at random, provide an opportunity to both create new friendships and increase communication with old ones via the chat message system. If online relationships aren’t your thing, consider getting a pen pal. This is a great option for those who want to bypass digital technology and go the traditional way. Enjoy the anticipation and excitement of receiving postal mail from someone different from yourself. Ask a Freedom staff member for help arranging a pen pal for you. Taking a class in a topic that interests you can be another great opportunity to meet people with common interests and create new friendships. Have a look at local council sessions to find further activities for seniors.
Joining a group
Local council sessions and classes on topics that interest you are a great way to make one or more friendships. Classes can be an opportunity to get involved in a group dynamic. You could join a local sports club and sign up for group sessions, such as a bowls club, golf club or tennis club. Organized lunches and afternoon tea sessions arranged by the council are other opportunities to meet people and bond over finger food. Reading groups and game nights provide a relaxed environment to get to know new people. If there are no classes or group sessions that showcase your interests, consider taking a class that could offer new interests and benefits, such as an aqua aerobics class. For forming group friendships using digital technology, we recommend the app Meetup. This app was designed with the objective of bringing people together from all walks of life, regardless of generational differences, with meetups based on common interests across Australia.
Family activities to strengthen relationships
Having a picnic, arranging a park or playground outing with the family is a proactive way to strengthen those familiar ties. Another option would be starting an arts and crafts project together that you can continue to work on over time. For adult children caring for their senior parents this is an excellent opportunity to bond and keep your meetups relaxed and easy. It is also a great activity for senior relatives who may suffer from dementia and prefer more suitable activities for their personal requirements. Puzzles and game boards are handy as fun activities for seniors that keep the family having fun, while creating lasting memories.
Establishing romantic relationships
For those looking for love, we have a few suggestions to get the champagne flowing. Online dating is a common and socially acceptable way of meeting someone. Broad and popular dating sites and apps provide a platform for people of all demographics and backgrounds to find the right person for them. There are also a variety of niche dating sites like Senior Dating Australia, which offers a way for seniors online to find one another and take the steps to forming a romantic relationship. One option for meeting new people and making connection outside of the internet is taking a cruise. Seniors cruises and cruises for singles are an organised and relaxed way to meet others looking for companionship.
The benefits of forming social networks and utilising social skills are endless, tackling issues such as loneliness, isolation and the risk of dementia. One study found the rate of cognitive decline decreased by 70% for those with frequent social contact.
Freedom Aged Care supports its senior residents who wish to get involved in their community and meet new people. To make it easier to forge social connections with fellow Freedom residents, all Freedom Aged Care communities have regular social events and communal areas to socialise in.