Building Connections at Senior Living Communities
Moving to a senior living community is about more than changing locations. It’s an opportunity to create the retirement you want, pursue your favorite pastimes, try new activities, and find new friends among your neighbors. In this blog post, we focus on building relationships and connections that make a community feel like home.
Building Senior Living Connections
The good news is that it’s much easier to build a friendship in a senior living community than, let’s say, a work environment. You’re guaranteed to meet others of your age who share similar interests. Senior living communities encourage residents to interact in a relaxed setting through senior socialization programs. From classes, clubs and committees to events, Happy Hours and celebrations, to day trips and outings off campus, you’ll find many occasions where it’s perfectly natural to strike up a conversation and pick up where you left off when you see that person again.
Meeting new people comes easily to some seniors, while for others who are more reserved or feeling shy, it takes effort to step out of their comfort zone. Here are 10 tips for extroverts, introverts and everyone in between, to make those connections and build those friendships a little faster.
1. Say “Welcome.”
You’ve been a newcomer and you know how it feels. So, keep an eye out for other newcomers, and do what you can to make them feel at home. They’ll thank you for helping them find their way around or learn where to go for information. Ask them about their interests, and bingo! You’ve helped someone out and made a new friend, all at the same time.
2. Get Involved
If you like being in the thick of things, why not sign up for a resident committee? Most senior living communities have committees where residents plan social events, manage a foundation or deal with community-wide issues. You can bet volunteers are always needed, and your time and talent will be rewarded, not only with an insider peek at how your community works, but also through energizing conversations with fellow residents.
3. Show Up
Even if you believe an event isn’t quite your cup of tea, go anyway. You might be surprised to find yourself enjoying it, and if you don’t, just chalk it up to experience. When you choose activities outside your comfort zone, you’ll meet a whole bunch of people you wouldn’t normally meet.
4. Be Open
We’re so focused on how we’re feeling inside, we often forget that others may have the same fears and uncertainty that we do. So don’t be afraid to let down your walls. Take the initiative and invite someone to share a meal or a cup of coffee. You’ll know right away if you “click” with someone, and they with you.
5. Go for Walks
If you’re a dog owner, you already know how easy it is to meet other dog owners. In fact, the dogs do it for you! And if you don’t have a dog, that’s not a problem. Walk out with treats in your pocket, show interest in your neighbors’ furry friends, and you’ll be chatting up a storm in no time.
6. Include Your Family
When a relative, child or grandchild comes to visit, introduce them to the other residents. Walk around the grounds or sit in common areas where your visitors can meet your neighbors. It’s a great way to put everyone at ease, and a wonderful topic of conversation with all the people you’re getting to know.
7. Connect with Staff Members
The staff members you’re in contact with every day most likely have a genuine passion for working with seniors. They have families and stories of their own, and can be a source of friendship, support and counsel. Take time to learn about each person and show your appreciation for what they do. Some seniors even become honorary “grandparents” to staff members who miss their own.
8. Offer to Listen
Not much of a talker? Then listen. Nothing builds friendships faster than helping someone else feel heard. Be the person whom others turn to when they want to share their stories, joys, disappointments and frustrations, and you won’t be short of friends.
9. Go Online
You may not be ready to form friendships with neighbors in the dining room or join a social activity in the multipurpose room. If you’d prefer to hang back until you feel more comfortable, use technology to stay connected with the community. Check their website, Facebook page, or Instagram account to see what’s been going on and if any upcoming activities pique your interest.
10. Do Your Thing
Feeling a sense of community doesn’t always have to mean engaging in similar activities or talking to other people. Just being around other people can have an impact. At North Oaks, our common areas are designed to be inviting destinations where you can read the paper, check social media on your phone, or watch a movie using headphones and your tablet. You’ll feel the community around you, even if you’re not engaged in conversation.
Interested in Learning More?
At North Oaks, we’re committed to establishing senior living connections that enrich our residents’ sense of community. Family traditions and cultural histories are embraced and shared, promoting the understanding and unity that make our community unique. Residents initiate and lead many of the clubs and committees on campus, and their input strongly influences the programs we offer. And of course, residents’ guests are always welcome — we offer guest rooms for family and friends who want to stay a little longer than a few hours. Contact us to learn more about our inclusive, engaging community life.