How to Make New Friends in Assisted Living

residents playing cards at a table

When you make the move to an assisted living community, the thought of meeting new people can be a little intimidating. As we grow older, it’s natural to hesitate when it comes to making new friends, especially if you already have a supportive family and friend group.

Don’t let that hesitation stop you from enjoying all the new people around you and making new friends. As you settle into your new home, try some of these tips for staying social in an assisted living community.

How to Make Friends as an Older Adult

Making friends as an older adult is not without its challenges. After all, it’s not as easy as it was back in kindergarten when you could bond over recess or your favorite color.

In fact, Psychology Today makes the point that no longer having school, college or a job in your life can make it even more difficult to form new relationships.

“Once you’re out of those structured environments, it’s hard to make new friends. … as you reach your later years, near retirement, or retire, making new friends can feel impossible. It’s not,” writes Andrea Brandt, Ph.D.

Brandt advises that adults seeking new friends should make an effort to meet new people and, most importantly, keep an open mind when they do.

“Having only friends who think exactly like you—or who come from the same background—limits your learning opportunities,” she says. “You may surprise yourself and discover that someone you initially rejected as friend-material, thinking you had nothing in common, becomes a close friend if you give them a chance.”


Related: Staying Social as You Age: 5 Tips for Seniors in Central Ohio


Making Friends Is a Breeze at Optalis Communities

At Optalis, we know emotional wellness is just as important as physical wellness. If you’re making the move to assisted living at an Optalis Community, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to socialize, meet new people and develop lasting friendships.

At our Canal Winchester, Mill Run, New Albany, Pickaway and Whetstone communities, the following features can help you stay social:

  • Well-appointed dining rooms and restaurant-style meals to help you share laughs and stories with your fellow residents
  • A beauty salon and barber shop where you can get your haircut and catch up with friends.
  • Beautiful outdoor spaces that allow for a relaxing walk or talk with friends.

You can also take part in a wide variety of activities, such as:

  • Creative arts
  • Exercise programs
  • Cooking programs
  • Intergenerational programs
  • Cultural programs
  • Clubs and special events

Of course, none of those activities are mandatory. You can participate in as many or as few activities as you wish—it’s entirely up to your preferences.

If you’re curious about what specific activities are offered, you can visit each community’s activity page to see a calendar of events. That will make it easy for you to get a feel for what your life will be like at an Optalis senior living community.

Mill Run Activities | New Albany Activities | Pickaway Activities | Whetstone Activities

Staying Social Outside the Assisted Living Community

Just because you move into an Optalis senior living community doesn’t mean that you’re limited to meeting new people within the walls of the building. The Columbus and Central Ohio areas offer a wealth of activities and destinations that are perfect for seniors looking to make new friends.

At Optalis, we offer transportation services as well as scheduled outings, making it easy for residents to enjoy everything Columbus and the surrounding areas have to offer.

One of the concerns seniors often have about moving to a senior living community is that they’ll lose touch with old friends. However, you shouldn’t worry—it’s just as easy to maintain friendships in a senior living community as it is at home.

Guests are free to visit you, either in your apartment, in our comfortable public spaces or for one of our activities. You can invite them over just like you always have for meals, an afternoon visit, a game of cards or whatever else it is that you enjoy doing with them.

Why Is It Important for Seniors to Be Social?

Friends aren’t just for fun—they’re also for your health. Staying social can help keep you healthy and prevent feelings of isolation.

According to the Mayo Clinic, friends can help improve your health and wellness by:

  • Increasing your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boosting your happiness and reducing your stress
  • Improving your self-confidence and self-worth

In a recent study on relationships and aging, William Chopik of Michigan State University found that friends can be just as important as family.

“The really surprising thing was that, in a lot of ways, relationships with friends had a similar effect as those with family—and in others, they surpassed them,” Chopik said in an interview with Time.

Chopik went on to say that “The general point is that the more support, the more positive interactions, the better. … The important thing is having people you can rely on, for the good times as well as the bad.”

Stay Healthy, Stay Social at Optalis

Learn more about how life at an Optalis Community can help you stay social, healthy and happy by reading our blog, exploring our website or contacting us.