Did you ever change schools when you were growing up? If so, you probably remember the fear that accompanied being a “new kid.”

Or maybe you recall similar feelings when you started a new job. Your confidence took a hit, and you had to learn new processes.

If you are planning to move to an assisted living community or just considering it, perhaps you worry about being the “new kid.” But think back throughout your life. Weren’t you able to make friends at school? Didn’t you eventually fit in with co-workers? It will be much the same at your new home.

Making friends in an assisted living community is the same as making friends anywhere else.

That probably doesn’t make being the rookie any less intimidating, so we’ve compiled a list of techniques you can use to meet friends in your new home.

Participate in the community’s scheduled activities.

Most assisted living communities have a variety of scheduled events, from exercise classes to musical performances. These are perfect opportunities to meet other residents.

Participating in community activities allows you to meet people with similar interests. For instance, if you enjoy art, a painting class will connect you with similarly talented people and provide a built-in conversation topic.

If you have a favorite hobby you would like to share, suggest a class or activity to your community’s activity director. Unless it’s really obscure, like competitive dog grooming (yes, that’s an actual thing), it’s probable someone else in the community shares your interest.

But don’t limit yourself to just activities you know you’ll enjoy. Take a chance on things you’ve never tried. Other residents who are also new to the topic will be there, and you can connect while learning together.

Spend time in the community’s common areas.

Half the battle with meeting people is spending time where they are. Although you will need alone time once in a while, avoid sitting in your apartment the majority of the day. Instead, you could

  • Complete a puzzle in the activity room.
  • Surf the web on your community’s computers.
  • Work out in the wellness room.
  • Read a book in the library.
  • Watch TV in the community’s sitting area.
  • Spend time on the outdoor patio.

Since others will be in and out of these areas all day, you will have plenty of opportunities to engage in conversation with a variety of individuals.

Meals are ideal times to make friends. Even if you have the option to eat in your apartment, go to the dining room for meals often, especially when you first move in. Just like you are anxious to know more about your new neighbors, they are curious about you as well.

Smile and greet others.

Start small, and let conversation flow naturally. Try one of these simple conversation starters:

  • How are you today?
  • Are you from this area?
  • I like your _________________ [shirt, shoes, hair, etc.]
  • It’s a _________________ [beautiful/nasty] day today.
  • Hi! I just moved here.

If these techniques fail …

Don’t get discouraged if you do not become close friends with everyone in your community. Personality differences always exist.

The best friendships take a little time to grow. Stay engaged with the community. It could be that someone with similar interests will move in.

At The Villas of Jackson, neighbors become family. Schedule a visit to meet new friends.