Making new friends is a skill that changes throughout our lifetime. As kids, it’s oh-so-easy – run up to someone in the playground, ask “wanna be friends?” and that’s that. Throughout all our life stages – college, employment, having kids of our own – we come into contact with others in the same situation or same stage of life, making it easy to become acquainted with new people. But when it comes time to move into a senior living community, many older adults still worry: will I be able to connect with others and make new friendships?
“Here’s the good news: practically everyone who’s moving into a senior living community is asking that same question,” says Helena Dias, Senior Advisor of Waterstone at Wellesley. “Although moving into senior living means a more relaxed and carefree lifestyle, as well as services you might need in order to live an independent life, it also means going somewhere you might not know anyone yet. Many seniors haven’t had to make new friends in a long time, so it’s common to feel a little anxious.”
Helena says that even though it may seem awkward at first, the good thing is that senior living is really the ideal place to be a part of a greater community and build new friendships with others. “Social connections are so good for us as we age – it’s part of a healthy, whole-body wellness regime,” she says. “Senior living communities like Waterstone at Wellesley are designed to support your mind, body and spirit as you age. Part of that is allowing for continued social interaction through clubs, events, activities and more.”
Even if you’re not a social butterfly, making friends in senior living doesn’t have to be difficult, Helena notes. “There are so many opportunities to be social without you having to do much except show up,” she says. “From dining in our restaurant-style dining room to volunteer events to art classes to concerts and so much more, you’ll find so many things to do that match your interests and an instant group of individuals to do them with.”
Activities are a natural conversation starter, and participating in events is a great way for seniors to start to familiarize themselves with their new community and introduce themselves to their new neighbors. “The staff at Waterstone knows that going up and introducing yourselves to others isn’t always comfortable for everyone, so we’re always looking for ways for us to introduce others to new residents, whether it’s by pairing them up at dinner, encouraging participating in an activity or simply introducing them to someone in the hallway,” says Helena.
Although COVID-19 has made it a little more difficult to go up and meet someone in the hallway, Helena says there are still plenty of opportunities for individuals who are moving into a community to make friends and form acquaintances. Here are some of her top tips, whether you’re new to a community or simply wanting to branch out from your everyday routine.
Try something new. Even in the age of COVID-19, senior communities are holding events and activities. Although you may be limited to the number of people who can participate, there’s still the chance to meet others through doing something new. Join a book club, start a woodworking class, try your hand at watercolors … look around at what your community is offering and dive right in.
Keep an open mind. Say “hi” to the people you see in the hallways or across the room. They’re probably as eager to make new friends and have social contact as much as you do – especially right now! This is a great time to reach out to people you may have crossed paths with but never have really gotten to know. Look around, say hi, ask how someone is and ask them for their story. You may be surprised at how excited someone will be to make your acquaintance.
Write notes. It may be hard to hold a lengthy conversation while you’re wearing a mask. However, writing a note and sliding it under the door – or handing it to them – is a great ice breaker and a way to open up lines of communication. The phone can work well, too. If both parties are somewhat technologically savvy, you can Zoom or FaceTime on your smartphones or computers – all from the comfort of your own private home.
Ask how you can help. Everyone likes to feel useful. And these days, the staff at the community may be looking for ways to reach out and get everyone connected. Talk to the life enrichment director to find out if there’s anything you can do or organize that would help bring people together. He or she may know of others who have a cabin fever and who are ready to try new things. Use your imagination and you’ll be amazed at the fun things you can come up with.
Always say “yes.” Although it sounds a little bit like a quote you’d see on Pintrest or on a pillow, Helena says that when you have the opportunity, always say yes rather than no to social engagements. “It’s a normal reaction for us to say no when trying new things, but think about what amazing opportunities you can have when you say yes,” she says. She encourages new residents and old residents alike to try and find something new to say yes to every day, whether that’s reading a new book or trying a new activity. “You’ll open up your circle in so many ways simply by trying something that’s outside your norm,” she says.
For more information about how to make new friends when moving to senior living, please contact us at 781.591.7113.
Beautiful Riverfront Community
Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.
Celebrating Dynamic Living
Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.
Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.
Confidence of Care
The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.
For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.591.7113.