GemLife

That’s what friends are for – Top ideas for inspiring friendships

That’s what friends are for - Top ideas for inspiring friendships

REMEMBER HOW EASY IT WAS TO MAKE FRIENDS WHEN YOU WERE A KID? WHAT CHANGED?

In truth, many adults find it difficult to make friends and this can lead to social isolation which can have a devastating toll on health and wellbeing, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke. And a survey conducted by Aged Care Research & Industry Innovation revealed that one in five older Australians are socially isolated.

But there is happy news, said GemLife Director and CEO Adrian Puljich.

“It is possible to make friends when you’re over 50 – especially when you have a friendly, outgoing community like the ones you’ll find at GemLife,” said Adrian.

“Our resorts are designed to provide plenty of opportunities to meet new people and to make friends based on your interests – whether it is over a game of pickleball, a project in the residents’ workshop, a favourite craft in the art studio or an evening’s entertainment in the grand ballroom.

“Sometimes all it takes is a little push out of your comfort zone to make new friends. But if you need further ideas, we have them covered in this feature.”

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to support your community and meet new people. Best of all, the opportunities to be of service are endless.

Opportunity shops and animal shelters are always looking for more people to join them.

“Or look for ways to share your expertise with a new generation,” said Adrian. “If you don’t know where to start, sites like Go Volunteer have a list of opportunities you can search by interest. Or you may want to explore being a mentor with the youth mental health charity LifeChanger which is something close to my heart.”

Embrace community events and activities

Whatever your hobby, you’re bound to find someone who shares them. Look for groups that cater to your specific interests. This could include music and theatre, travel, card games, health and fitness, or outdoor events and camping.

You’re bound to make friends when you’re doing something in company.

“Many of our resorts have resident-run Facebook groups and websites which list events and activities,” said Adrian. “If you’re not sure where to go, your resort manager or Home Owners’ Committee members will be able to steer you in the right direction.”

Take advantage of technology

Todays over 50s are the pioneer generation of the computer age and are comfortable with using technology for staying in touch with family and friends.

Platforms such as Facebook allows you to create groups for family and friends. Facebook Messenger is a free service that offers voice and video calls via your smartphone. Other tech-savvy platforms for connecting with friends and family include WhatsApp.

“If the world of technology is somewhat bewildering, many local libraries have free classes – which is another great way to meet people!” said Adrian.

“Using search engines such as Google can put you in touch with local community groups and other special interest groups to help kick start the search for new friends and new interests.”

Attend educational programs

“You’re never too old to discover something new,” said Adrian. “Without the pressure to learn for academic attainment or career advancement, learning just for pleasure is a satisfying way to keep your mind active and meet new friends.”

Best of all, many of these opportunities are low cost and some are even free! The University of the Third Age (U3A) has chapters in many locations and offers classes in a wide range of topics including foreign languages, genealogy, history, music lessons and more.

In addition, many universities have free public lectures to give you the opportunity to deep-dive into a subject. Or you may choose to get that university degree or master’s degree that you’ve always promised yourself.