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Friendships have a huge impact on our mental health and happiness. Close friends offer support in tough times, help manage decision- making and stress, and make life richer.

But what do you do when you find your Rolodex is looking a bit sparse? Making friends can be difficult, and those challenges certainly don’t dissipate as we age. The foundation of friendships is harder to come by when we’re in our 60s and beyond, so how can seniors create and maintain new friendships?

Learn a New Skill

It’s said that the best time to form relationships is when you are most confident with yourself. Why not take that ambition you’ve always placed on the backburner and use it as a way to meet like-minded friends? Your continued learning area of choice — anything from learning a new language, creative writing, quilting, or painting classes — not only will introduce you to new people, but it’s also proven that mentally challenging activities will likely give your memory and mental clarity a boost.

Check Your Local Senior Center for Activities

Find a program that is designed to connect seniors through a local senior center. Organizations such as the Peter Kirk Community Center in Kirkland or the Redmond Senior Center offer group activities such as indoor pickleball and arts and crafts.

Join Book and Movie Clubs

Who among us hasn’t struggled to get through a book or movie despite best efforts? When it comes to expanding our minds through good habits (which certainly includes discovering new literary and film genres), it often helps to have support and set deadlines — and it just so happens that book and movie clubs are a great way to meet a diverse group of people and have conversations.

Find Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering provides one with a sense of purpose, and it’s also a great way to meet others. Can’t get enough puppy cuddles? Look for opportunities with organizations such as Seattle Humane Society in Bellevue. Does nothing make your heart sing like live performance? Sign on to usher for a local theater. (And an added bonus of working for a theater? Getting to watch performances for free!) Whatever your passion is, follow it: You’ll find similarly aligned friends along the way.

Explore Faith-Based Gatherings

Forming friendships is easier when all parties align on the big things. The greenlight for in-person gatherings means a return to faith-based gatherings and a return to deep conversations about the things in life that truly matter. Find a church, temple, synagogue, or mosque in your area to connect with new (or existing) friends. And worry not if you don’t belong to a specific faith — simply search for nonreligious spiritual groups on platforms such as Meetup or Facebook Groups.

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