How to build friendship and connections
For many of us, spending time with family and friends is one of the most important parts of our lives.
On an emotional level, it’s easy to understand why connection is so important, but there are physical health benefits too.
When we look after our social wellbeing, we sharpen our cognitive function, reduce stress, and boost our immune systems.
The NHS has ‘Connect with other people’ as one of its Five Steps To Mental Wellbeing.
Put simply, having an active social life is good for your health.
Here’s a summary of the main social wellbeing points we’ll cover in this article
- Loneliness affects more than 1.4 million over 50s
- There are plenty of resources in the local community to help stay socially connected, and we’ll show you how to access them
- Combining socialising and learning improves cognition and boosts mental agility
- How to join in with local celebrations and make friends
Loneliness: The biggest threat to social wellbeing
Studies have shown the devastating impact of loneliness on older people.
In 2018, Age UK published a report which found that 1.4 million over 50s said they often feel lonely.
By their projections, that number could rise to a devastating 2 million by 2026.
The study cited bereavement, living alone, poor health and isolation as the factors that drive loneliness.
The pandemic has compounded the issue, as lockdowns and isolation have kept people apart.
Now initiatives, including The Campaign To End Loneliness, are working to address these problems.
They found that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
It also puts people at a greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Feeling close to other people and having that sense of belonging is a fundamental human need.
So, given the challenges, how do we begin to build social lives in later life?
It all begins with reaching out and finding the groups in your local community who can support you.
Age UK has a fantastic resource on their website where you can find out what’s going on in your local area. Click here.
There are all kinds of social events, groups and leisure activities on offer.
Social events in our Homes
In Advinia Care Homes, we have dedicated Activities Teams who timetable social events every day to bring the Residents together.
In doing so, we can create opportunities for Residents to build connections with each other and establish positive relationships in their Homes and local communities.
Those experiences lead to bonds and friendships that create Home communities full of fun and life.
Social Wellbeing and hobbies
It’s great to meet people who share your hobbies and interests.
Hobbies are a good way to build new friendships as you can connect quickly over a mutual passion.
When Residents move into Advinia Care Homes, we always want to know what they enjoy doing so we can meet their individual needs.
It’s important to us that Residents continue to do the things they love as they settle into their new Home.
Here are some of the hobbies that Residents in Advinia Care Homes have been participating in:
Finding hobby groups where you live
You’ll find there are plenty of hobby-based groups meeting up in your local community.
If you can get online, begin by typing the name of your hobby and your local area into Google.
For example: “Bridge clubs in Dudley” or “book groups in Romford”
There are likely to be quite a few results, so keep searching through to find the one that’s right for you.
Try social media too
You will also find that Facebook is a valuable resource for hobby groups.
Many groups have a dedicated page you can follow, or you can go into groups dedicated to your local area and ask about meetups for your hobby.
Simply go to the ‘search Facebook’ box at the top left-hand side of the screen and type in what you are looking for.
For example: “sewing class Bolton” or “gardening club in Liverpool”
Remember, you can also head over to Age UK, where they host the local area search.
If you get really stuck, you can always ring the helpline on 0800 678 1602 for support.
Learning New Things
Being curious and open to learning new things can help your wellbeing.
Learning empowers you to remain engaged with the world around you and develop new skills.
For older people, it also helps with cognitive function.
We encourage Residents to keep learning by inviting speakers to join us, introducing new activities and experiences.
Residents tell us that they love to explore new things, broaden their horizons and acquire fresh skills.
For example, at Cloisters Care Home, Residents were taught cake decoration techniques, Team Newcarron Court have laid on trishaw experiences, and at Bishop’s Cleeve, there was a nature photography masterclass.
What does the research tell us?
Interestingly, University of California psychologist Rachel Wu conducted a study into the benefits of learning on cognition in older adults.
She found that learning three new things at once helped to stave off cognitive decline.
After 1.5 months of learning multiple tasks, the participants increased their cognitive abilities to levels similar to adults 30 years younger.
So, it’s time to decide what you want to learn next!
The pursuit of fun
It’s important that you find social activities that you enjoy and bring fun to your life.
For some people, that’ll mean a good chat over a cuppa. For others, it’s a quiz night at the pub.
Getting the opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings and make new memories is crucial for social wellbeing.
We like to have a mix of social activities in Advinia Care Homes, so there’s something for everybody to enjoy.
Those easy-going, shared experiences bring plenty of joy to people’s lives.
Never underestimate the health benefits of laughter.
Researchers in Japan did a study of 12,000 over 65s which found laughing with good friends reduces the risk of cognitive or physical disability by 30%.
Crucially, those who showed those positive results were laughing with other people, not alone.
Get involved with special occasions
Special occasions are the perfect excuse for people to get together socially.
If you live alone and are looking for ways to boost social wellbeing, they are a great place to start.
Most communities will have fetes, concerts, parties, fundraisers and religious celebrations you can join in with.
We regularly host parties for occasions such as fireworks night, summer fetes and concerts.
If you’ve got an Advinia Care Home close by, get in touch because we often extend an invitation to members of our local communities.
Here are a few we laid on last year:
It’s lovely to bring people together at our Care Homes, and Residents always tell us how much they enjoy it.
How to become part of your local community
Becoming an active member of your local community will help improve your social wellbeing.
The good news is that efforts are being made to ensure the community is accessible and inclusive.
Some towns and cities will have well-established friendship cafes where you can meet new people.
If you are a person of faith, reach out to the local religious groups and leaders to discover the events they are putting on.
Find out if there are volunteer groups you could join to help people in need, or to benefit from their support.
For ladies, the Women’s Institute is a brilliant community group for friendship and fun.
The Men’s Shed Association is a terrific resource for male friendship.
Advinia Health care has always been committed to building bonds with the local communities to our Homes.
It’s always terrific to invite people into our Homes and make friendships.
Plus, we make sure that Residents who want to go out and enjoy the local area can do that with our Care Colleagues’ help and support.
Social Wellbeing In Advinia Care Homes
As you’ll see, we are focused on making sure that Residents have an active social life in our Care Homes.
Their social wellbeing is part of our person-centred care approach.
One of the most popular and successful social wellbeing activities we’ve done is our ‘Advinia In Bloom’ competition.
We invited each Advinia Care Home to transform their outdoor space as a team effort – and the results were incredible.
The impact on Residents was incredible, as they enjoyed the stimulation of the project, the sense of belonging in their Home team and being together.
‘Advinia In Bloom’ helped Residents’ become mentally engaged, move more and socialise, which boosted wellbeing enormously.
Find out if there are community garden projects in your area and reap the rewards too.
The most important thing is to get started
We understand that it can feel daunting to go out and make new friends.
Not everybody is an extrovert with the confidence to walk into the room and start talking to others.
However, socialising is essential to your happiness, and it does require you to make the first move.
So, don’t be afraid to reach out and take that first step.
You’ll find many people who were just like you at the beginning and will be kind and supportive as you find your feet.
The benefits to your life and your happiness could be immeasurable. So, it’s time to get started.