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Just getting out increases the chances of meeting new people — and friends are sometimes found in unlikely places. Check out continuing-education classes at your local college or university. Conversations with other dog walkers are guaranteed, and even people without pets will stop to say hello to Max, giving you the perfect opener.
In addition, many colleges allow older adults to audit regular classes for free, and some have programs specifically for seniors. Senior centers have moved way beyond Friday-night bingo. If you're retired, take a part-time job, even for just a few hours a week. Invite a few of your neighbors for dinner if you like to cook, or organize a potluck meal if you don't.
But now that you've reached a new stage of life — and maybe have relocated or retired — making new acquaintances can be a little trickier. Close relationships with others are vital to your health — physical, mental and emotional — your self-esteem and even your longevity, according to recent research. Get over the idea that everybody else your age already has all the friends they need. Work out at a nearby gym or the Y — but don't just do the machine routine: Join a class so you see the same people every week. "Don't put too much pressure on a fragile new friendship because that can scare people away," Paul says.
Also see: Be a Better Friend Not only do you have fewer opportunities to meet new people, but "there's also a little more resistance to forming new relationships later in life, and your skills can get a bit rusty," says Marla Paul, author of The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore. So if watching Grey's Anatomy is the highlight of your week, or you find yourself enthusiastically chatting with telemarketers, you probably need to make some new connections. "Nobody wears a sign that says 'I'm looking for a friend,' but there are a lot of people out there in the same boat," Paul says. Accept invitations, even if you suspect it won't be the night of your life. If someone doesn't call you back immediately, don't assume they simply don't like you.
The UC Irvine School of Medicine's Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology is nationally recognized and respected for its advances, especially in training young doctors and providing resources and leadership to combat elder abuse.