4 ways to connect with friends this summer

When the weather warms up, so does our social lives. According to a 2019 OnePoll study of 2,000 Americans, 31 per cent of people were more likely to get together with friends and family in the warmer months.* It stands to reason then that the summer months are also a great time to rekindle old friendships—and make new ones.

For seniors, friends definitely come with benefits: research shows that those with strong social networks, including good friends, enjoy better health. Here are four ways to enjoy your friendships this summer:

Reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a while

It’s actually easier to rekindle old friendships, rather than starting new ones, according to friendship expert Dr. Marisa Franco.* Her research found that when we rekindle old friendships, we already enjoy a higher level of trust with these friends, compared to current acquaintances or potential new friends. That trust and the knowledge of one another makes reconnecting easier.

Turn acquaintances into friends

Dr. Franco also suggests another easier path to friendships is through converting acquaintances into closer friends. These could be people you see regularly through a club you belong to or a seniors’ group where you meet to play cards or enjoy a shared hobby. It could even be a neighbour in your retirement community or someone you bump into often. After you feel comfortable, reach out and invite a potential friend for a coffee or a walk, Dr. Franco advises.

Join a fitness class or walking group

Research has long shown that exercise is important in maintaining physical and mental health, especially during trying times. Exercising with a group—such as with a walking club, doing chair yoga or dancing—is also a great way to make friends.

By virtue of sharing similar goals (staying fit) and challenges (staying motivated or battling a health condition, for example), group participants often become fast friends, and enjoy the social aspect as much as the physical boost.

Become part of a seniors’ community or retirement residence

Ask many older adults what they like best about the lifestyle in a retirement residence and they will often refer to friendly staff, new friends and the vibrant social life. In a retirement community, residents forge friendships through wonderful shared meals in the dining room, or while participating in a wide range of activities, such as fitness classes, hobby groups, artistic and cultural pursuits, outdoor activities, social events and numerous other active-living programs.

Retirement residences also provide spontaneous opportunities for people to get to know one another—say while grabbing a coffee in the bistro, while out on a garden stroll, or even bumping into a neighbour coming down the hall. Sally, a Chartwell resident, says, “I met Bonnie when I first came here, and we got to be friends, and then Joan came along, and she fits in like my sister, and we have so much fun together.”

Learn more about the safe, social and supportive lifestyle at Chartwell retirement residences by visiting www.chartwell.com.

*The following sources provided references for this blog, in order of appearance:
1. SWNS Digital. “Study reveals why we’re more social in the summer.” (May 31, 2019), online: https://swnsdigital.com/2019/05/study-reveals-why-were-more-social-in-the-summer/
2. Psychology Today. “5 ways to make friends when you’re stuck at home.” (July 17, 2020), online: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/platonic-love/202007/5-ways-make-new-friends-when-youre-stuck-home