Ask people what makes life good for them, and the answers are sure to vary, from financial security and traveling to family, food, new experiences and just about everything else in between. One constant that often comes up: good friends.
Friends make life more interesting, fun and enjoyable, and they can actually help make life a little healthier as well. Research has shown that social interaction can provide a range of benefits for everyone but especially for older adults. Those benefits include better physical and emotional health as well as improved cognitive function.
Maybe you moved recently, and you want to make new connections. Or maybe you want to expand your current social network. How do you go about making new friends? What follows are a few easy and fun ways to lengthen your list of companions.
Volunteer - Plenty of nonprofit and community organizations are in need of help, much of which comes from volunteers. Find one in your area and see how you can lend a hand. You'll find yourself engaging with like-minded folks and making some new friends.
Hit the senior center - Lots of communities have senior centers that offer a wide range of activities, from writing, book and theater groups to fitness, art and computer classes, hikes or trips to nearby attractions. They also offer daily opportunities for social interaction, whether that's having lunch with friends or meeting a new Scrabble opponent.
Join a club - Meeting regularly with a group of people who have similar interests is a great way to build solid relationships. Consider joining the local Rotary Club, a walking, hiking or biking club or any number of other groups to meet new faces and stay active and engaged. Adult centers and libraries can be good places to look for ideas; simple web searches for clubs in your area can be great, too.
Take a class - Have you ever wanted to learn how to paint, cook ethnic cuisine or play the piano? You have plenty of company. Signing up for a class to learn just about anything can be a great way to not only educate yourself, but also to meet lots of new people. Get even more out of the experience by signing up for a fitness or exercise class. Seattle Parks and Recreation, for example, offers everything from pickleball and hula dancing to yoga and aerobics.
Making friends can happen organically, too. Strike up a conversation at the coffee shop, grocery store or the dry cleaner, and you just may make a new friend.