6 Ways to Build a Community As You Age

First and foremost, set yourself a goal to reach out to others and take the initiative.

What are some ways to make friends and find a community as you age? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

With more time on your hands in retirement and as we age, it should be one of your most social periods of life! There are lots of great ways to find community and make new friends. Plus creating community and socializing is an important part of staying healthy. A 2019 study “analyzed data from more than 580,000 adults and found that social isolation increases the risk of premature death from every cause for every race.” So get out there and connect for your health!

First and foremost, set yourself a goal to reach out to others and take the initiative. Don’t wait for others to call or invite you somewhere, instead you get the ball rolling. Invite someone a couple of times and, if they aren’t interested or don’t make an attempt to reschedule, move on to someone new.

Consider these ideas to make new friends and find community:

1. Join a fitness group - This could be a sports team, a run club, or a local aerobics class. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests and perhaps spark a conversation at an after-workout lunch or coffee.

2. Volunteer - A great way to meet friendly people is through volunteering. Find a theme you are passionate about and join a good cause with like-minded people.

3. Take Classes - Find a class in one of your passions: photography, woodworking, or crocheting, for example. This also allows you to work together on projects and trade tips and advice.

4. Mentor - There are lots of younger people looking for mentors. You can find them through professional networks or in your local community. Sparking intergenerational friendships can help keep you up to date as well with some of the latest trends.

5. Join A Club - Whether it’s robotics or books, join a club to start sharing with others who are passionate about similar topics.

6. Attend Public Events (or Virtual Events) - Get to events that interest you--whether in person or virtual--and make a goal to talk to one person. Not every conversation will lead to a friendship but sooner or later it just might.

Nothing gets a conversation started like a nice smile. When you see the chance to start a conversation over a book someone is reading, the dog they are walking, or another topic - just do it. Especially if you see these people regularly, this could spark a budding friendship.

Not quite ready to put yourself out there and on the line? Perhaps start from behind a screen. According to Pew Research, 91% of Gen Xers, 85% of Boomers, and 62% of Silents use the internet. Many older adults are now turning to technology to stay connected to friends and make new ones on platforms like GetSetUp that are designed specifically for older people to learn, share, and connect in an empowering community. Others are finding groups of people who enjoy playing the same video games, reading similar books, or sharing similar topics that they can connect with from their living room.

No matter how you choose to connect there are a lot of ways and options available, so start to get social because it’s for your health!

This question originally appeared on Quora.

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