My dad recently moved in to an assisted living community after we decided that his house was too much for him to manage by himself. Although he’s glad to not worry about housekeeping or meals, it’s been a difficult transition.
He was pretty close with his old neighbors and is having a hard time getting to know people in his new community. What are some ways he can make new friends?
Steve from Saline, MI
Making Friends in a New Senior Residence
One of the major benefits of moving to a senior living community is the opportunity to get to know people and make new friends. Unfortunately, it takes a little time to settle in when an older adult is transitioning from their house to a senior community.
With a few small steps and friendly gestures, however, your dad can start to make new friends soon.
Tips for Making New Friends in Senior Living
- Smile and say hello.
Sometimes the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference. Rather than avoiding eye contact or small talk, encourage your dad to be warm and friendly in a way others respond to. Simply saying hello with a smile in the hallway or communal areas can be enough to start a conversation.
- Join others for meals.
Mealtimes provide an easy way to meet new people. If he’s been eating alone in his apartment instead of the dining room, encourage him to enjoy his meals with fellow residents instead. He might ask to join others at their table and introduce himself to start a conversation.
- Watch the calendar.
Most senior communities have event or holiday calendars with various activities for residents to enjoy. This may include group games, a religious service, or fitness activities. Your dad might watch the calendar for activities he enjoys or something new he’d like to try. Have him start by choosing one activity every week and planning to introduce himself to at least one new person there.
If he’s reluctant to go alone, join him for a few activities. Senior living communities welcome and encourage family involvement.
- Stay positive.
Sometimes we avoid new people because we are afraid of what they will think of us. If we assume that other people will not like us, that’s a good way to sabotage potential friendships. You can encourage your dad to avoid this attitude by being positive and open and assuming that others will like him and enjoy getting to know him.
- Invite people over.
Making new friends does not have to be complicated. Another simple way your dad can get connected is to invite neighbors into his home. This may include coffee, a snack, playing a game, or watching a movie or TV.
- Be patient.
Adjusting to a new community can be hard work, so be patient with your dad. Encourage him to be patient with himself and with his neighbors. Change is difficult for most of us, so give your Dad time to adjust and settle in.
Building Community for Senior Loved Ones
Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to residents in a comfortable, home-like setting that encourages community. Contact us for more information.