On a recent trip to Tampa, I learned the importance of knowing your neighbors. My uncle lives in a quiet retirement community, and he shared several stories of how he and his neighbors look out for each other. We noticed a brand new American flag flowing in the wind in his front yard as we pulled up. We asked if he bought a new flag for us. He said his neighbor noticed his was a bit worn and put up a new one. We both commented on the gesture, and he continued with more stories of how knowing your neighbor matters, especially as you get older. About a year ago, one of the neighbors noticed a large puddle of water at the end of the driveway of the couple that lives across the street during the winter months in Florida. After a closer look, they found there was a water line break, and because they all have each other’s numbers in case of emergency, they were able to notify the couple and help them arrange repairs.
With spring in the air, it’s the perfect time to plan a get together or two so you can meet your neighbors. If you know everyone already, use the time together to get caught up on what everyone’s been doing. Here are some ideas to bring everyone together so you can meet your new neighbors and reminisce with the ones you already know.
- Get on your green thumb! Community gardens are great ways to beautify a landscape and fortify new-found friendships.
- Offer a carpool. If you go to the grocery or the pharmacy every Tuesday, offer your neighbors a ride so they can also pick up items they need. It lends an opportunity to chat and maybe even share dinner ideas.
- Host a game night. Dust off those board games you always loved to play and invite some folks over for a game night. Pick a day, send invites, and provide light snacks. The loser of the game hosts the next game night.
- Start a birthday club. Pick a day each month to celebrate those who have birthdays that month. Buy a cake and meet in a common area at your senior community. You will meet more new people who will likely stop by to share in the celebration.
- Recipe swap. Ask your neighbors to share one of their favorite recipes. Provide them with recipe cards and plan an afternoon to meet to share the actual item, as well as pass out the recipe to each other.
- Walk group. Plan a time and location to meet and get moving. If It’s 30 minutes or if it’s 10 minutes, it gets the heart pumping and encourages time with friends.
- Scrapbook Club. What a great way to preserve your memories! Gather your pictures, scissors, fancy paper and a tape runner, along with a scrapbook. Create decorative pages to store your family photos for generations to come.
Since one of the risks of aging can be a sense of isolation, getting to know one’s neighbors goes a long way toward enriching the lives of all concerned. There are a number of reasons and advantages for seniors to become acquainted with their neighbors. Feeling connected with neighbors increases a sense of community not only in seniors, but also with community members of any age. Many seniors have family members who live elsewhere. Bonding with their neighbors gives a direct sense of family or a bit of closeness one might associate with families.