Musings about Making New Friends as a Senior: Or, who wants to hang out with an old geezer who doesn’t know the difference between Instagram and Western Union?

For the past 70 years, I projected that my golden years were a long way off. But was I wrong? Today, people drive past me yelling stuff like “Move over you old blankety-blank-blank!” And believe me, they’re not saying I look like Brad Pitt.

People over 60 face a variety of Herculean challenges. From health problems to money woes to the skyrocketing cost of living. All Rhode Island seniors could use a good friend, but the eternal question is, where to begin?

Before I discuss some options, let me inspire you with a quote from one of my heroes: “Embrace the change, no matter what it is, once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” – Niki Giovanni, poet, social activist, and octogenarian.

When I examine this quote, the first thing that comes to mind is: Where there is a will, there is a way. Finding true friends at any age is not easy, but the challenges many seniors face can seem insurmountable. Yet, here is the optimistic news: there are more options for making friends in today’s world than decades past thanks to the internet.

Major advances in healthcare mean more seniors are living longer. In 2020, the World Health Organization reported the number of people aged 60 and older outnumber children younger than five years old. And now’s the time to smile because unlike other moments in history, with the digital world in full swing, older people who are health conscious have the opportunity to live longer and branch out to find friends.

If you’re thinking, “Easier said than done,” then you’re right, but finding new friends is not impossible.

First step is to embrace your technology. Get on your computer or head to your local library and you’ll quickly discover the infinite world of new friends who are just a few keystrokes away. Remember, back in the good ol’ days when your English teacher would say “There’s no such thing as a dumb question, and if you want to succeed, you need to show up.” Guess what? They were right on the money.

Be that curious person who asks for help while learning a new skill, who doesn’t let their age set limitations on what’s possible, because you can get out there – you can do it. You may have a few extra pounds, wisps of gray hair, and more wrinkles than you did 10 years ago, but so what? “Take lemons and make lemonade,” my dad would say and he lived a long, happy, and healthy life. Be your own best friend. Good energy attracts positive people and Rhode Island is full of gems.

We are fortunate to live in a state that cares. The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging has partnered with Get Set Up, a digital platform designed to help bridge the digital divide and combat social isolation seniors experience. Get Set Up, which is one of the fastest growing virtual social learning programs for older adults looking for friends, helps people reconnect with old friends and keep in touch with family members who may live far away.

“Get Set Up and the many partners that help make this work possible recognize the importance of lifelong learning and support opportunities for older adults who want to build new skills, have new experiences, and connect with their peers,” says Maria Cimini, Director of the Office of Healthy Aging.

Get Set Up, provides classes for Rhode Islanders over fifty and allows members access to a safe community of retirees that totals nearly 4.6 million members worldwide. People of all skill levels are welcome and may access the services on a variety of devices, including laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Classes are available in multiple languages and teach computer literacy, as well as offer social events, and health and wellness classes. Seniors can visit for more information.

I have to admit staring into a computer screen is a heck of a lot different than reading the Sunday Boston Globe, but let’s be realistic, not everyone has the ability to get out or the opportunity to connect with family. A support group of online friends is better than staring at four walls or watching Bonanza reruns. If you never look, you will never know what’s out there.

Another strategy for meeting new people with similar interests is MeetUp is free to join and allows you to explore a myriad of upcoming social events. After selecting a group event, you can register for separate events by contacting the event host. There are nominal fees for some events, but many are free. Events range from book clubs to group restaurant nights to walking buddies. What better way to break the so-called ice than meeting likeminded strangers in a group? It’s been my experience that you’re bound to find someone in a group you can chat with. To get started, visit and search for events in your city or town.

One event I’ll be attending and invite you to come along (if you read this in time) is Skip the Small Talk At Long Live Beerworks. The event takes place on Thursday, January 11 at 8pm at 40R Sprague St., PVD. For more information, visit skip-the-small-talk-rhode-island/events/297516630/ As you head out on your journey to reconnect with old friends, as I have done since relocating back to New England, or to make new friends, remember the words of another great role model, Eleanor Roosevelt: “Beautiful young people are acts of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

Walter Slattery, is a freelance writer, musician and arts lover. He can be contacted at slatterywalter1@