Over-60s reveal the keys to making and maintaining meaningful friendships

As we age, maintaining meaningful friendships becomes increasingly important for our wellbeing and quality of life. Many older adults value long-lasting friendships as a crucial aspect of their happiness. But making and keeping friends can be challenging in later years due to physical limitations, lifestyle changes and the loss of loved ones. 

Yet, there are plenty of older adults who have managed to keep strong and lasting friendships well into their golden years, and they have some wisdom to share.

A Reddit user, curious about the key factors that contribute to healthy, long-lasting friendships, implored over-60s to share some tips on how to cultivate and maintain meaningful relationships.

Asking the question, “What is the key to maintaining healthy, long-lasting friendships after 60?”

The responses were insightful. One person emphasised the need to make an effort to meet up with friends, as it’s easy to fall into the habit of just being text message buddies. Another stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open, even if you don’t hear from friends for a while. 

One user wrote: “In my 60s, I’ve found that making and keeping long-lasting friendships is all about being open to new experiences. I joined a local seniors’ group that offered various activities, such as painting classes, book clubs, and nature walks. Through these group activities, I met like-minded individuals who shared similar interests. We bonded over our common hobbies and gradually formed a close-knit circle of friends. We make a point to regularly schedule outings, such as picnics in the park or visits to museums, to deepen our friendships. By staying active and involved in social activities, I’ve been able to cultivate meaningful friendships that have stood the test of time.”

Another user shared: “I recently realised the importance of maintaining friendships from my earlier years. I made a conscious effort to reconnect with old friends from school and previous workplaces. We organised to meet up and were thrilled to see each other after so many years. Since then, we’ve made it a tradition to have regular get-togethers, whether it’s a simple potluck at someone’s house or a group outing to a concert or a movie. We cherish the memories we’ve shared in the past and create new ones in the present. It’s been wonderful to rekindle these old friendships and see them flourish in our golden years.”

Another added their experience of making friends after retirement: “After retiring, I realised the importance of maintaining social connections to combat loneliness. One of the ways I’ve made long-lasting friendships in recent years is by volunteering in my community. I joined a local charity organisation and started volunteering regularly at events and fundraisers. I met other passionate individuals who were also looking to make a positive impact in the community and, over time, we became good friends who regularly meet up outside of our volunteering duties. Volunteering has not only given me a sense of purpose in my retirement years but has also helped me build deep and meaningful friendships.”

The essentials of making and keeping friendships

Making and keeping friendships over 60, or in any stage of life, requires some essential elements:

  1. Openness and willingness to connect: being open to new experiences, meeting new people, and putting yourself out there is essential in making new friendships. It’s important to be willing to take the initiative to reach out and connect with others, whether it’s through joining clubs, volunteering or attending social events.
  2. Shared interests and common values: having shared interests, hobbies, or common values can serve as a strong foundation for building friendships. It provides a basis for connection and mutual enjoyment and can be a starting point for meaningful conversations and activities that strengthen the bond between friends.
  3. Regular communication and interaction: keeping friendships alive requires regular communication and interaction. This can be through regular catch-ups, phone calls, text messages, or other forms of communication. Making an effort to stay in touch and show genuine interest in your friends’ lives will help maintain the friendship over time.
  4. Support and empathy: being there for each other during both good times and bad is a crucial aspect of maintaining friendships. Offering support, empathy, and understanding during challenging times, such as health issues, loss of loved ones, or other life changes, can deepen the bond and foster a sense of closeness.
  5. Flexibility and adaptability: friendships evolve and change over time, and being flexible and adaptable is important in maintaining them. Understanding that life circumstances may change, schedules may shift, and priorities may vary, and being willing to adapt to these changes can help keep friendships strong.
  6. Quality over quantity: while it’s important to be open to new friendships, focusing on quality over quantity is key in maintaining friendships over 60. It’s not about having a large number of friends, but rather nurturing meaningful connections with a few close friends who bring joy, support and companionship to your life.

So, whether it’s reconnecting with old friends or making new ones, remember that a little effort and being a good friend can go a long way in building and maintaining the relationships that enrich our lives.

How do you maintain your friendships? How often do you spend time with your friends? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Why we crave friendship

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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