Seniors have much to gain from a move to assisted living. There’s staff to provide support in a secure environment built with the needs of the elderly in mind. One of the biggest benefits of assisted living comes in the form of friends.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), loneliness and isolation are connected to serious health problems. A national Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found that nearly one-fourth of people over age 65 are socially isolated.

The risk increases the older we get because elderly people are more likely to experience chronic health conditions, hearing loss, and the loss of loved ones. All these factors impact socialization.

Seniors who are isolated or lonely have a significantly increased risk of premature death. They are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Suicide rates are higher in this demographic as well.

Heart failure patients who are experiencing loneliness are nearly four times more likely to pass away and have a 68% increased risk of hospitalization. They are also 57% more likely to need to visit the emergency room.

You can learn about 10 reasons why seniors need to have an active social life to better understand why friends and family are essential to good health.

The best way to combat these concerning issues is to build a thriving social circle and stay active. Vista Living Senior Care welcomes new residents with many opportunities to meet new people. What can a senior who just moved into assisted living do to start building their social circle?

  • Be Friendly and Approachable

If you want to welcome new people into your life, you have to give them an open door to enter through. That means being friendly and approachable.

Moving into assisted living can lift many of the burdens that come with aging and independent living. Some seniors have been dealing with their own struggles for a long time, so it can be difficult to adopt a more positive mindset.

If you struggle with this, it may be helpful to schedule time with a therapist. They can help you adapt to assisted living and find ways to be more approachable. Not only will it help you connect with more people, but it can also guide you toward a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

  • Get to Know the Staff

The staff may be there because it is their job, but they also care about you. Many form friendships with the people they support. Getting to know the staff will make it easier to go to them when you need help or have questions.

The staff may also be able to direct you to social opportunities or introduce you to other residents who share your interests or experiences.

  • Mingle in Common Areas

Assisted living communities tend to have common areas. These are great places to meet your peers. Chances are good that others will also visit these spaces.

Many times, common areas in assisted living include lounges, TV rooms, or game rooms. Here, you will likely find something to do together that can help you connect with others. Join in a game of cards, watch a movie, or hang around and see who shows up.

  • Check Out the Events Calendar

Assisted living communities tend to have busy events calendars. These can include everything from book clubs to art classes or group workout sessions. Find something that you enjoy and join in.

Vista Living Senior Care provides many opportunities for fun and engagement among residents. Our recent gatherings include a Sunday BBQ hosted by a resident’s daughter as well as spring crafts, and a live musical performance by a mother-son duo.

  • Try Something New or Learn a Skill

New things seem scary sometimes, but they can push us to learn more about ourselves. Being open to new experiences also helps us reach out to more people.

Try a new activity or learn a new skill to enrich yourself and extend your social circle. Many colleges offer perks for senior citizens. In some cases, you could get free tuition. Check out local schools or look for online classes.

Even if you attend class remotely, learning something new could help you connect with the people you see in person. You may convince a neighbor to enroll in a class with you, so you can learn together.

  • Eat Meals with Your Neighbors

Human beings have used meals as a reason to socialize for thousands of years – and it still works well today! That’s why you should make a point to join your neighbors for meal times as often as you can.

Being able to eat together is one of the social benefits of living in an assisted living community.

  • Plan a Housewarming Party

Organize a gathering in your new home. This is also one way loved ones can help seniors build their social circle. Plan a housewarming party and invite your closest neighbors. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. Create a place where you and your fellow residents can gather and get to know one another.

You can also look for icebreaker games that will help you ease into conversation and find common interests.

  • Connect with Other New Residents

Find other new residents within your assisted living community and get to know them. You will already have some common ground being new arrivals. You can learn and explore the facility together, and possibly bond over these shared experiences.

As you become more acquainted with the community, staff, and amenities, you can use this knowledge to help seniors who move in after you. You may not be the newest person anymore, but you can help support others and make new friends in the process. This can also help you feel a sense of purpose, which is an essential component of good mental health.

  • Be Patient with Yourself and Others

Remember to be patient with yourself and others. Building a strong social circle isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time to find compatible people and form a bond of friendship.

Moving into assisted living may seem overwhelming at first, so be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to adapt and be open to making friends, but don’t rush it.

Be patient and understanding with others as well. You may find that some of your neighbors are struggling to do the same thing you are – which gives you something in common right away.

Socialization is the key to preventing isolation and loneliness in senior citizens. Family should take on an active role to help their loved one adapt and meet new people. While it’s good to continue to interact with family members, it’s also important to build connections with peers.