Making friends in later life | Homewise

Are you facing some new changes in your retirement? Perhaps you’re relocating and are having to find ways to connect within your new community? Or maybe you've recently separated or are sadly widowed and are considering a different future to the one originally planned.

Finding your feet and making new friends can be an exciting prospect, but the sometimes it can leave you feeling a little at odds.

With people living online in a digital world for many, social interaction has changed dramatically. Subsequently, across the globe, we’re facing what has been described as a “loneliness epidemic”.

It's estimated that more than one fifth of the UK population (approximately nine million adults) often, or always, experience feelings of loneliness or isolation, according to a study conducted by the Red Cross in early 2020. In a post-pandemic world it's believed this number has increased due to a change in the way many people now live and work.

It has been suggested that loneliness is detrimental to our health across all age groups, however, older age is where the effects are often felt to a greater degree. In 2021 the ONS conducted a study that showed more than 3.3 million people aged over 65 now live alone. Research carried out by AgeUK showed that, if isolated from other members of their community, the effects on the health of older people could be as bad as smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day!

It is incredibly easy to get stuck in a rut, but research (and experience) shows that positive thinking is the best way forward. It's never too late to find and make new friends, and discover how these new friendships develop.

Read on for some really helpful tips and tricks on ways to go places, meet new people and build new friendships, as well as the potential health benefits that investing time in your enjoyment and wellbeing may bring.


Several groups of friends


Looking for a quick read? You can skip to the bits that are most relevant for what you’re looking for!




The health benefits of reaching out

As well as boosting your day to day mood and reducing those feelings of loneliness, making friends can be beneficial to your mental and physical wellbeing.

It's not always the easiest thing to talk about, but sometimes in older age, certain illnesses and diseases can become more common. AgeUK has reported that, with a growth in the number of people aged 50 and over that are predicted to be lonely, there is a 40% increased risk of dementia.

However, making friends and having a more active social life can help to reduce the chance that these issues will occur. A two year study carried out by University College London (UCL) identified that people over 60 who have frequent contact with their social group could reduce their risk of dementia by up to 12%. While this is not a guarantee, it highlights how social interactions could keep your mind sharp and your memory focussed. 

Social seclusion later in life can also lead to the development of habits such as taking up smoking and eating foods that are less beneficial to your diet and overall health, according to the British Heart Foundation. These issues are not necessarily directly responsible, but they can bring about illnesses such as heart disease and stroke.

Surrounding yourself with friends can help to influence healthier decisions as a collective as well as heighten the want you feel to look after your own wellbeing.


A group of friends cooking together


A good way to stay healthy and to be more social, is to set up a cooking club! Taking turns to cook, can ease the burden, help with making friends and challenge everyone involved to come up with the most creative and healthy meals! Further to this, it can help you save time throughout the week for other jobs you may need to do or just more time for hobbies and evening events.

The effects of feeling lonely can differ from person to person, and for many, can have a less than positive effect on your mental health. 

According to research from Mind, one of the knock on effects loneliness can have is loss of sleep, which can affect your day to day mood and ability to function.

Social interactions, whether that's just having a regular cuppa with friends, volunteering with others, or taking part in a weekly activity (such as a book club or choir) can help you feel more empowered. It can also boost your feelings of involvement in the community and ensure there is someone to talk to when you need the support.



Making new friends in later life

The older you get, the harder and more daunting it can feel to put yourself out there and make new friends. However, the opportunities are still out there, and could be much closer than you think.

The most important step is just to get yourself out there! It's not necessary to push yourself to attend large social gatherings if they're not your thing, there is likely to be plenty going on in your local area. Perhaps joining a small social group that enjoys walking, or sharing a cup of tea. There are a lot of organisations across the country, from the u3a, AgeUK and reengage that offer social activities for people aged 55 and over.

If you don't fancy joining a social group, what about joining a class to learn a new skill, or perhaps lend a helping hand and volunteer for a local charity.



There are nationwide volunteering schemes that run across the UK, but it’s always worth popping down to the local high street to see which shops are looking for someone to give them a helping hand. Volunteering is an easy way to connect with many people within the community, from all ages and walks of life.

Some of the larger volunteering schemes that may be of interest include, Volunteering Matters and Do-It.

Clubs and classes

If you’re looking to stay active or get fit, there are resources out there that can help you find the class that is right for your ability. Some of these include AgeUK and NHS, where you can easily search for what is available in your area. 


People taking part in classes, exercising and painting


If an exercise class isn’t quite what you’re looking for, why not learn something new? Organisations like the u3a offer classes, events, and weekly social sessions that cover everything from Mahjong, lawn bowls, Tai Chi and painting. Classes and sessions vary by region and new events are added regularly.

Social events

Just looking for somewhere to natter, enjoy a cup of tea and perhaps a bit of entertainment? Perhaps check out the events hosted at your local church or community centre. You can often find the information on your local council website. It's an easy way to get involved and meet people at your own pace.

Time to Talk Befriending

Time to Talk Befriending is an awesome charity located across Brighton, Hove and Worthing. If you find it difficult to get outside of your home, you can utilise TTTB to have someone come and keep you company, as and when you feel like you may need some company or support. If you prefer to be part of a group, where you can meet even more people from the local area, this option is also available; there always seems to be an endless supply of tea!

If you're not based in East or West Sussex, there are other organisations across the country that provide a similar service, including AgeUK, and the Befriending Network.


Where to find new friends

Getting out and about in your community is the first step to forging new friendships. However, if it's not so easy for you to get around in your local area, whether that's due to lack of access to transport or health issues, then social media can be a really helpful and important tool.  

There are many options out there, but Facebook is one of the easiest ways that you can keep in contact with friends, family and members of your community. It’s a free service to use and you can connect with people all over the globe. It’s also a great way of organising local events or creating your own local social group where you can meet people and chat online or organise local meetups.

There are plenty of groups you can join, including the Over 60s Friendship Group UK, where you can arrange meet ups, and get together with people in your local community. Maybe you just want someone to talk to online that is in the same position as you? This is the perfect place to meet them! 

Another site popular with the over 55s, is the SilverSurfers online community. On the site they post news and information that might be relevant for what you’re looking for. Further to this, the site also has a number of forums, chats and spaces where you can not only showcase your creativity, but also connect with people who share your interests.


Older woman on the phone


Staying safe online

While we're always advocates of making new friends and reaching out online, it's important to be aware of your safety when you're online. If you’ve made a friend online, don’t invite them to your home, always meet in a neutral space, such as a local coffee shop (or even the library). It’s also a good idea to meet in a small group rather than one on one, it can help to eliminate any nerves you may be experiencing too! 

Another aspect you must avoid at all costs is giving out your financial information, no matter how much you trust someone, or how legitimate it may appear.

With online scams prevalent, another safety top we can give you is to be mindful of the links that you click on (in messages, emails or on other websites). You never know where one might take you, or what it could do to your computer. 



Dating later in life

If you’re looking to find new friends, it could also be the perfect opportunity to branch out a little bit further. If you’ve been considering starting dating, friends of friends is often the perfect place to begin; you have that mutual connection, and it may not feel quite as overwhelming. 

However, if you’re seeking to meet someone new, via online dating, AgeUK has a step by step guide to setting up your new dating profile.

As previously mentioned, it’s important to stay safe online. Make sure you always meet in a neutral space, let someone know where you are at all times, avoid going home with them after your first meeting and never give out any sensitive information, especially over the internet. It all boils down to common sense.

With this in mind, there are some great dating websites, which are perfect for all ages, as well as for those who are keeping themselves exclusive to the over 50s.


older couple cuddling on a bench


From volunteering, learning something new and getting involved with Time to Talk Befriending, there are plenty of ways you can go about  meeting new people. Who knows? Some of them might end up being life-long friends.

Why not check out some of our other guides and checklists that could provide some inspiration if you’ve been thinking about making some quick and easy changes towards your health and lifestyle.

Embracing the next chapter of retirement after divorce

Guide to Skype: How to create a Skype account and stay connected

Health and wellbeing in older age

5 ways to exercise your brain in retirement


Perhaps you’re thinking about relocating? At Homewise we aim to make this transition as smooth as possible. Whether you’re feeling apprehensive or excited and are looking for savvy tips and tricks to help you in your move, we’ve got you covered.

Are you planning to move, or perhaps struggling to find the perfect property?  If you're aged 60 or over, get in touch with our team today - we could give you all the information you need to find your next home.

Here at Homewise, we’ve been providing our customers with the tools to settle into retirement for nearly 50 years!

In the meantime, you can use our online quick calculator! It's really easy to use and could provide you with a better understanding of your potential budget.