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How Do Seniors Form Friendships? Insights by Arden Davidson

Friendship is an essential aspect of life at any age, but forming and maintaining friendships can take on new dimensions as we grow older. In her insightful article, “How Do Seniors Form Friendships,” Arden Davidson explores the unique ways in which seniors build and nurture relationships in their later years. Davidson delves into the various social settings and activities that foster connections among older adults, from community centers and hobby groups to volunteering and social media. She also addresses the challenges seniors may face, such as mobility issues and changes in social circles, and offers practical advice for overcoming these obstacles. By highlighting the importance of companionship and the benefits of staying socially active, Davidson provides a comprehensive guide for seniors looking to enrich their lives through meaningful friendships. Sharing this article is important because it offers valuable strategies and encouragement for seniors and their families, ensuring that the golden years are filled with joy, support, and lasting connections.

by Arden Davidson

Like all populations, senior citizens often seek out new friendships. However, the criteria and patterns of friendship seem to change with age. There is evidence by researchers, such Lang and Carstensen, that seniors do not form friendships using the same patterns that younger people do. This is primarily because as this population grows older, so does the possibility of becoming isolated due to a lack of interaction through work, social groups and day-to-day activities. The fear of isolation can be particularly powerful when someone is missing a spouse, or friends or family, who have passed away.

Friendships offer senior citizens opportunities for close relationships during a time when retirement, health problems, and death of loved ones may lead to feelings of loneliness and even depression. Therefore, these friendships are more important for older adults, and also tend to require a lot more emotional support.

Unfortunately, isolation is a common feature of many senior’s lives, which may be in part because they are not adequately prepared to deal with or understand the changing patterns of their friendships. This is primarily a result of their familiarity with the friendships of their past which were not laden with the burdens of impending physical and/or mental deterioration and ultimately, about mortality.

According to Wood and Robertson, friendship can be a valuable resource that helps older adults maintain independence, enhance self-esteem, and encourage social activities. Friends can contribute to feelings of competence, stability, encouragement, and satisfaction with life. They can also offer much needed support during times in which the senior needs a shoulder to lean on, important advice, or some old fashioned cheering up.

Some senior citizens may remain isolated because they assume that no one would want to deal with their health problems or their changing lifestyle or whatever problems are burdening them as they age. Therefore, it is important to make seniors aware that friendship can and should be an important part of their golden years. This is necessary in order to dissipate the barriers that prevent older members of society from pursing friendships that can enhance their lives.

Sources:

Lang, F. & Carstensen, L. (1994). Close emotional relationships in late life: further support for proactive aging in the social domain. Psychology and Aging. 9, 315-324

Wood, V. & Robertson, J. F. (1978) Friendship and kinship interaction; differential effect on the morale of the elderly, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 40, 367-75

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