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The Friendship Series: Making Friendships Later in Life




"Embrace the joy of forging connections later in life, for these bonds, rooted in the rich soil of lived stories, have the power to enrich our souls and illuminate the vibrant colours of our journey together."

 

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I had the privilege of sharing lunch with two remarkable and cherished elders on the 47th floor of a distinguished Sydney CBD skyscraper. Both women are exemplary figures, showcasing the art of embracing life to the fullest as we age and epitomizing the inherent beauty of cultivating friendships effortlessly throughout every chapter of life.

 

Francesca Emerson, an 84-year-old trailblazer and the first African American Playboy Bunny has touched numerous lives through her warm and vibrant spirit. As the author of "The Chocolate Bunny," she has cultivated an extensive network of cherished companions in her hometown of Selma, Alabama, and across the Pacific in Sydney, Australia.

 

Although I seldom engage in social media, I make a special exception by following Francesca's captivating escapades and marvelling at her diverse friendships spanning all ages. Wherever Francesca's journey takes her, she never fails to forge new connections and leave an indelible mark on those she encounters.

 

Francesca has been a speaker at two Redefining Ageing events and hosted a book club in the Silver Sirens Virtual Sanctuary.

 

Jo Milne-Home possesses a unique talent for forging friendships through her camera lens, breaking down barriers with a simple click. Jo's daily strolls along the Coogee shoreline are marked by her encounters with intriguing individuals, whom she captures in photographs that she shares with her followers on Facebook.

 

During one of these fateful encounters in 2021, as my swim buddy and I concluded our ritual Friday morning swim, I had the pleasure of meeting Jo. My excitement about an upcoming Redefining Ageing event was contagious, and Jo swiftly procured the details and secured her ticket before our conversation had even concluded.

 

Over the years, Jo has become a valuable contributor to the Redefining Ageing movement. She has served as a speaker at previous events and is currently on the Steering Committee for the inaugural Sydney Satellite event. Jo continues to exemplify the power of connection and community-building through her photography and involvement in these gatherings.

 

As we journey through life, the landscape of our social circles can shift. Retirement, relocation, loss, and other life-altering events can often lead us to seek new friendships later in life. At Silver Sirens, we believe in the power of connection and the joy it can bring to our golden years.

 

Here are some tips for making friends and building lasting connections as we embrace this chapter of our lives.

 

Embrace Your Interests

The beauty of this stage of life is having the time and opportunity to pursue the interests that bring us joy. Joining a class, a book club, or a hobby group is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people while exploring your passions. Whether painting, hiking, volunteering, or learning a new language, you’re bound to find kindred spirits along the way.

 

Utilise Technology

Social media, online forums, and apps aren’t just for the younger generations. They can be invaluable tools for staying connected and making new friends. Engage in online communities or groups tailored to your interests or demographic, or reach out to long-lost friends through platforms like Facebook. Online connections can be just as meaningful and fulfilling as in-person friendships.


Rediscover the Art of Conversation

One of the best ways to make new friends is by striking up conversations with the people around you. Talk to neighbours, fellow dog walkers, or fellow volunteers. Share stories, ask questions, and genuinely listen. You might just find a new friend where you least expect it.


Attend Social Events

Many communities have events specifically geared toward older adults. These events offer opportunities to socialize and make new friends, from movie nights to dances. Don’t be afraid to attend solo – you’ll likely find others in the same boat and also want to make connections.


Be Open and Positive

Friendship requires vulnerability and trust; making new friends later in life is no different. Approach these new connections with an open mind and a positive attitude, allowing yourself to be seen and appreciated for who you are. Remember, building deep and meaningful friendships takes time, so be patient and enjoy the journey.


My driving force behind the ongoing work with Silver Sirens lies in witnessing the transformative power of lifelong friendships that blossom among the women who attend our in-person and online events. It brings me immense joy to see community members share their adventures and experiences with newfound friends; connections initially sparked at one of our gatherings.

 

At its core, Silver Sirens is dedicated to fostering opportunities for meaningful connections and nurturing a strong, supportive community. Witnessing the bonds that form between our members reaffirms our commitment to our mission and demonstrates the lasting impact that Silver Sirens has on the lives of the women we serve.

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