My best friend is 81. It is my paternal grandmother. We text all of the time and talk every single day. One of my other good friends is someone who I met at church. We attend shows together, drink wine together, enjoy meals out at hip new restaurants, kayak, take painting classes and share casual couch catch-ups where we talk for hours all afternoon. Oh, and did I mention she is my mother’s age?
Although it is great to have friends our own age, there are also some pretty stellar benefits to making older friends. Here is why we should invest in older friendships and having older friends.
Benefits of having older friends
When we were in school, we were grouped by our age. But as we grow up and mature, our friendships are formed around our commonalities and interests. As adults, we attend events, live next to and work with people of all ages and generations, so it is no surprise why intergenerational friendships are quite common.
According to AARP, four in ten adults have a friend who is at least 15 years older or younger than they are. As we continue to move farther away from our formal education, our interests, passions, and priorities begin to shift. Maybe we begin to attend church, join a book club, travel, or volunteer at a local community organization. We even enter the workforce, where we are more than twice as likely to befriend someone from another generation than anywhere else (as stated by the same AARP study).
We believe everything is better with friends, and that includes older friends. Plus, there are some pretty stellar benefits of having older friends and older friendships.
Having older friends provides insight and wisdom
“The old saying with age comes maturity might be true in the case of befriending individuals older than you,” says Pareen Sehat, Registered Clinical Counselor at Well Beings Counselling. “They have wisdom about how to navigate life smoothly,” shares Sehat.
They have already surpassed crucial milestones like building a career, buying a home, getting married, starting a family, maybe even retiring, or just trying to live their dreams. “You can always use their experience to your advantage and ask for advice on important issues.” Plus, intergenerational friendships not only benefit you, but they can also benefit the other person.
Sehat continues. “Moreover, you can also inspire them in different ways, like teaching them all the technological trends or helping them with pop culture references. “Friendship is a two-way street where you two flourish together. It will also strengthen your bond over time.”
Older friendships are supportive and less competitive
Speaking with Aviad Faruz, CEO and Founder of FARUZO, she shares how having older friends has positively impacted her life. “They provide me with support and less competition. Allowing friends to be more supportive of one another rather than always comparing and competing with one another is a must [in] every circle of friends. Friendships between generations are not competitive because they are at various phases of life.”
Faruz continues. “Aside from that, older friends appreciate and value relationships and can always be counted on to be there, with good advice and warm feelings to boot. They have this accumulated wisdom that cannot just be found in a book.”
Older friends tend to communicate more honestly
Now I am not saying having friendships with people our own age does not mean there will not be any honesty, but have you ever had a conversation with someone older? They have no problem being straight up honest whether we want to hear it or not. (I am looking at you, Grandma). Older individuals are at an age where they no longer feel the need to impress people and they definitely are not afraid to share their opinions, for better or for worse!
Ways to make older friends and form older friendships
Just like making friends your own age, finding older friends can be easier than you think. Here are a few ideas on how we can form older friendships.
- Attend events older people may be interested in
- Become involved in a church group
- Connect with alumni
- Get involved in social groups related to your career field and industry
- Interact with older neighbors and older people in your neighborhood
- Join a book club
- Participate in a sport older people enjoy
- Start a new hobby older people may like (i.e. gardening)
- Talk to older people with respect and listen to what they say carefully, especially when you are asking for their advice on something.
- Volunteer at a local organization
Having friends our age is great, but with all of the benefits of having older friends and older friendships, maybe it is time to take these tips and make an older friend or two. We have said it once and we will say it again, everything is better with friends no matter what their age.