No matter your age, making friends is no piece of cake, but as you age it gets harder. People often experience loneliness at different points in their life; a recent survey of 20,000 Americans by the University of California on their “Loneliness Scale” (prior to the pandemic) found that nearly half of Americans (47%) are suffering from feelings of loneliness. However, not all age groups experience loneliness the same.
Researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine surveyed 340 people ages 27-101 and found that severe loneliness occurred during three age periods: late-20s, mid-50s, and late-80s.
While loneliness increased during social isolation across all age brackets, many people actually opened a whole new world of virtual friendships; some of these are carrying over into real life. This is encouraging for health and wellbeing, since establishing, keeping, and maintaining friendships helps to improve overall health.
The National Institute of Health’s research on Friendship in Later Life: A Research Agenda stressed that
“The likelihood of older adults continuing to enjoy and benefit from interactions with friends, combined with the potential for social isolation in old age suggests the importance of investigating friendship in creative new ways to advance understanding of friendship structure, processes, and phases along with their implications for health and well-being.”
Many older adults are turning to technology to maintain their friendships. to keep in touch and to establish new friendships. GetSetUp wants to celebrate the friendships that have formed thanks to our lifelong learning platform.
Enjoy the stories and photos of learners who are taking their virtual friendships to the real world!
Rose B. shares their friendship story:
“Mary Ellen and I met on Norman's Good Morning America session. This weekday morning video call is similar to morning shows on television, but the great part is that we are not watching celebrities, we are talking to each other! Everyone gets the opportunity to discuss their weekend, their day, their plans, etc. On one call I mentioned attending a bird-watching event at McGinnis Slough on the outskirts of Chicago. We had seen eagles, hawks, herons, pelicans, and osprey, among other shorebirds. Mary Ellen was amazed to hear that it was near her house. We saw each other a few more times on Norman's call and then exchanged email addresses via chat. We then started communicating and made arrangements to meet on a nature walk at Oak Forest Heritage Preserve, another trail not too far from either of us. Mary Ellen is a natural storyteller and we had a great time. It was a delight for us to meet each other, and a friendship was born!”
Marlene H. shares their friendship story:
“I meet Garnetta first in our Meatless Recipe Interest Group. Later we meet at her home in Detroit. Garnetta wanted to share some vegetable plants and seeds. During our visit, we toured her container garden in her backyard, where Garnetta has planted a variety of vegetables in many different types of containers. So many vegetables were growing and I could tell she really enjoyed this hobby. Garnetta’s garden was beautiful and we had a chance to share which GetSetUp classes we are taking and future classes we might consider. I also invited her to our SAGE (Seniors church group) meetup in August. We enjoyed our time together and plan on meeting for lunch in the future.”
Joanne shares their story:
“Frank and I participated in Russ’s program on the Camino De Santiago walk. We had visited the Cathedral on one of our trips to Spain and chatted with Russ about our experience.
When he presented the Rick Steves program we became more interested in his presentations since we are avid fans of Rick and follow his philosophy of travel. We mentioned some of our travels to Russia. Since Cuba was our last trip before the pandemic and a place that travelers do not normally have as a top priority, he invited us to share our photographs and experiences with his group. We did so twice.
We were traveling south to visit Aunt Betty, the last aunt on either side of the family who was celebrating her 98th birthday and mentioned that we would be in his territory.
Russ suggested we meet at a local coffee shop, which we did. Our visit was terrific and cemented the fact that Russ was as delightful in person as in his broadcast. He is a top-notch guy.
We are thankful to GetSetUp for the opportunity to connect with like-minded travelers.
The programs are inspiring, educational, challenging, thoughtful, non-threatening, and best of all, free. As your programs expand may you continue your great service to so many who have benefited from these experiences. The presenters are awesome and it has been fun watching them grow and improve as they continue with GetSetUp.”
Norman Reiss shares their story:
“My co-worker Liz and I live in different parts of the world, Liz in Brazil and me in New York. But after nearly a year of working together, we’ve gotten to know each other by the many online meetings that we’ve attended - and sometimes led - together. When Liz recently planned a trip to several states in the US, one of her stops was in midtown Manhattan - an easy train ride away from where I live. So we arranged to meet for a rare opportunity to socialize in person over dinner. It was the first time I met anyone from GetSetUp on anything other than a computer or phone screen. Liz looked a bit different than online, but we quickly recognized our voices and spent a wonderful few hours together.”
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Terri has given up TV to participate in live interactive classes on health, wellness, and more.
"I’m doing things that at 73 I never thought I would be doing!” said Susan.