Building and maintaining friendships in retirement
Maintaining friendships in your adult years isn’t as simple as it was when you were at School. Responsibilities at home and at work can take up a lot of your time. Plus big life changes like moving house, divorce or the death of a loved one, can all have an impact on how often we’re able to socialise and see our friends.
When you get to retirement, you’ll most likely be excited by the prospect of having more time to spend on your hobbies and interests, as well as spending time with friends and loved ones. However, if your friends are still working or have other commitments at home, you may find it difficult to find the time to see them. You may find that it’s challenging to see your friends because they don’t live nearby, or maybe you’ve simply fallen out of touch.
Below we’ve shared our best advice for building new friendships, and reconnecting with old friends, in retirement.
Explore your hobbies and interests
Something you’ll have more time for in retirement is your hobbies and interests. Whether you’re passionate about gardening or reading, painting or cooking, your hobbies can be a great way to meet likeminded people.
One of the best ways to connect with people is to find a common interest. Try joining a group or a club related to your hobbies, such as a book club, choir or painting class. You’ll soon find yourself chatting away to people who share your interests, and the conversation is sure to flow.
Get to know your neighbours
How well do you know your neighbours? Sadly, most of us are so busy with our lives that it’s unlikely we know them very well, if at all. Making friends with your neighbours will strengthen the sense of community in your area, and they make for very convenient friends too!
Becoming friends with your neighbours can start with something as simple as a smile and a ‘hello’ when you see them. It might spark a conversation and you could find that you have things in common you never knew about. Alternatively, you could knock on their door and introduce yourself, or offer to help if they ever need anything – such as keeping an eye on their house and putting out their bins while they’re on holiday.
Volunteering is not only a fulfilling thing to do, it’s also a great way to meet new people in your community. Find a charity or an organisation that you care about, and see if there are any volunteering opportunities in your area.
You could work in a charity shop for a couple of hours a week, help out at your local animal rescue, or volunteer in a hospice. The work will be extremely rewarding, and you’ll meet other people who are likely to share your beliefs and interests.
Being active in your 50s and beyond is not only a great way to stay fit and healthy, it’s also a great way to make new friends. One of the best things about playing team sports is the bond you develop with your teammates, and the thrill of friendly competition.
Walking sports in particular are a fun way to keep your energy up, make new friends, and look after your health. Just Get Active is a new UK-wide initiative that is helping people aged 50+ get active through walking sports.
Spend time with your family
You don’t necessarily need to look outside of your family to find opportunities to socialise. Many people find spending time with their family the most fulfilling thing to do in retirement. You could spend more time with your children and grandchildren, find time to visit your parents and siblings, or get in touch with distant cousins.
If you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews, see if they have school functions you can attend. School concerts, sports days and nativity plays are just a few of the yearly events most schools host. Not only is it a chance for you to spend time with your family, you could also meet new people – such as fellow proud grandparents, aunties or uncles.
Make plans that suit everyone
If your friends are still working, or if they’re often busy with other commitments, it can be hard to find the time to see them. So why not suggest plans that can fit around their busy schedule?
You could offer to meet for food on their lunchbreak from work, or offer to keep them company while they’re looking after their grandchildren. If they’re busy with home improvements, you could offer a helping hand. Not only will it make it easier for you to spend time with your friends, you may find that they really appreciate the thoughtfulness of your suggestions.
Take the first step today
When you retire, you’ll most likely be going from working full time to suddenly having seemingly endless free time. While you definitely deserve to take it easy after a lifetime of hard work, it’s important to stay active and socialise.
According to the charity Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone. And more than a million older people say that they’ve gone more than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
So why not try our tips above to take the first step towards building new friendships, or reconnecting with old friends, today?