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An 83-year-old who moved from New York to Florida explains how she's working to prevent loneliness and make friends

Back of old woman on beach
Alistair Berg/Getty Images
  • Rosalind, 83, moved from New York to Florida three years ago, and she's struggled to make friends.

  • To mitigate loneliness, she's taken up bridge, a book club, and attended local plays.

  • While she knows it takes time to find lasting friendships, she just wishes it was easier.

Rosalind, 83, spent her whole life living in New York. Her family was there, and while she was single for most of her time in the state, she had many friendships and a range of activities she enjoyed doing.

All of that changed when she decided to move to Florida three years ago, following her niece's family. While Rosalind — who requested to keep her last name withheld for privacy — said she was happy to be in warm weather with her family, she found that the community she moved into had a younger population, leaving her with few things in common with her neighbors.

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"I followed them because otherwise I'd be in New York by myself," Rosalind told Business Insider. "And who knows? Right now I'm in good shape. But who knows what can happen later on? What if I would need medical help?"

Back in New York, Rosalind said she was active with her friends, playing tennis and pickleball at a local club. But after suffering a heart attack, she's no longer able to participate in those activities, making socializing even more difficult in Florida.

"I can't play tennis, which I love, or pickleball. And that's how you meet people. And that's what I love to do, but I can't do that," Rosalind said. "So that was taken away. And so how do you meet people in a development with younger, married people with children and a dog? I don't have a dog. It's just me."

To attempt to find other social connections, Rosalind said she's taken up playing bridge, participating in a book club, and attending local plays. She's also planning to sing in her church's choir in the fall. But even with those efforts, she's continuing to struggle with loneliness sparked by her move to Florida.

While moving to a new place can be an isolating experience for anyone, loneliness tends to hit older adults especially hard. US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared loneliness an epidemic in 2023, and while younger generations have a range of active avenues to find connections, older adults' options are more restricted.

Rosalind acknowledged that she could be better at initiating social outings with her peers, but the fact remains that she's struggling to find lasting connections beyond her family.

"The most important thing in life is family and then friends," Rosalind said. "It's very important to have friends. And I don't really have any."