Ask the Expert: Making Friends Later in Life

Dear Lura:

My father passed away 7 months ago and my mother is on her own for the first time in 51 years. She is moving to Columbus this summer to be closer to my family. I’m trying to find a few places she can go or organizations she can become involved with to help her make new friends here.

Do you have any suggestions?

Christine

Dear Christine:

My sincerest condolences on the loss of your father. I’m sure this has been a difficult time for your mother and your entire family.

Making new friends later in life can indeed be a little more challenging than in younger years. But we do have a few ideas that may be of help to your mother when she arrives in Columbus.

  • The local senior centers have a wide variety of events, activities and programs.
  • Getting involved in volunteer work is another great way to meet new people of all ages. Local hospitals and assisted living centers (like us!) are always looking for caring, compassionate seniors to volunteer their time. HandsOn Central Ohio is a good avenue for exploring volunteering opportunities throughout the Columbus area.
  • If your mother plans to join a local church or synagogue, you could also talk with them about what opportunities there might be for her. Most have women’s groups, senior groups and a variety of volunteer opportunities.
  • You might also use her hobbies and interests to guide you in your search. If she is artsy, she might want to take a watercolor class at the Cultural Arts Center or a pottery class at McConnell Arts Center. Several of the area bookstores also host book clubs once or twice a month if she enjoys reading.
  • Clintonsville Women’s Club is an organization some of our residents belong to. It offers seniors an opportunity for both socializing and fellowship.
  • Your mother might also benefit from joining the local YMCA or another fitness club that offers senior-friendly programs. In addition to making new friends, she will also help improve her level of fitness.

I hope this gives you a few good ideas to share with your mother, Christine. Best of luck to your family in making this transition go smoothly for your mother!

Lura