“Make New Friends . . . Live Longer: A Guide for Seniors,” by Sunie Levin. Royal Heritage Press. 86 pages. $13.95.
Three cheers for the compact, clear, practical and upbeat book that helps people help themselves. Sunie Levin’s latest book is just such a volume. For today’s seniors, especially those who either must or choose to relocate in their retirement years, making new friends is a real problem. Ms. Levin has faced the problem herself, given it much thought, and offers sound advice spiced with brief illustrative stories of seniors taking control of their lives in new surroundings.
While Ms. Levin is concerned for those who are housebound, divorced or bereft of a spouse, or trapped in caregiver situations, she is just as much concerned for those who “are simply watching their circle of friends dwindle year by year and area at a loss how to replace them.”
Many of her suggestions are familiar or simply exercises in common sense. However, the author’s caring, reassuring tone is what makes the difference. She persuades readers that they can make the changes that they need to make in order to avoid isolation and despair.
Here’s one of the most aggressive tactics that Ms. Levin records. A newcomer had a T-shirt made that read “I’m New Here – Displaced From Ohio. Please Talk to Me.” This simple, if flamboyant, tactic worked. Most of us, however, are not so extroverted.
We need to scour community newsletters, join clubs, invite new neighbors over for meals, ask their advice about doctors and beauticians, sign up with volunteer organizations, and take classes. We need to project a sunny disposition and avoid turning people off by complaining. Most importantly, we need to become good listeners; after all, there will be plenty of times when we need someone to listen – really listen – to us.
Establishing relationships with new people means being able to remember their names, how to contact them, and something about their interests. As we age, short-term memory loss weakens our ability to hold onto such information. Documenting what you learned about a new acquaintance allows you to make the next conversation more effective. People are delighted that you’ve remembered things about them. Moreover, this discipline of writing things down is in itself a memory aide.
To read this view in its entirety as it appears in the April 21, 2011 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Sunie Levin