4 tips for building friendships at your new retirement home

Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People introduced the idea that success in life is based on effective communication and building relationships – also two key components of making and keeping friends. What Carnegie couldn’t have known back in 1936 was that winning friends also helps you live longer. A 10-year Australian study found that in people over age 70, those with the largest number of friends outlived those with the smallest number by 22 per cent.

That study is just one of many, cementing the fact that friends make us happy and healthy. But it can still be a little daunting to make new ones – especially if you’re moving to a new home in a retirement, assisted living or long term care residence. Here are 4 tips to make new connections:

1.   Attend welcome events

Moving to a new home can be intimidating, especially if you’re shy by nature. It’s easy to retreat to your suite, telling yourself you’ll jump in later. But welcome events are the perfect place to meet other new residents. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with staff at these events either; they’re there to help you meet people. Ask questions, such as, “Do you know anyone in the residence who is interested in [hobby]? Or “What’s the best time to meet people in the dining room?

2.   Explore your new home

Go for a walk in your new residence, stopping to introduce yourself to others who may be strolling the halls or the gardens. Even if you have a TV in your suite, visit the TV lounge to watch shows. Movie nights or residence events are another easy way to meet new people, giving a built-in topic to chat about. And don’t forget the dining room or bistro as prime territory to establish friendships.

friendship that lasts a lifetime3.   Get busy

Many senior living residences today feature an incredible calendar of activities, tailored to residents’ unique interests and passions. Often, new residents enthuse that they’re busier – and more fulfilled – than they’ve ever been, simply because they’ve discovered (or re-discovered) an activity they love. Part of that is the joy of making friends through shared pastimes like knitting groups, card tournaments, charitable initiatives or themed dinners and evenings.

4.   Sign up for outings

Many residences have regular bus trips for shopping and outings to events and attractions. Joining an outing is a great opportunity to make a new friend or two. On the bus, sit beside someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. It’s easy to talk about where you’re going, ask for advice about the outing, and maybe even re-connect on the return trip.

Chartwell’s LiveNow life enrichment programming offers residents numerous ways to make friends, keep active and stay healthy and engaged. To learn more about our program, or download a sample activity calendar, click here.