May 18, 2015, Coral Gables, FLA — Building new friendships is a challenge at any age but for those aged 85+ it can be a more difficult process. Many in this age group had been a “better half” for years and were accustomed to building friendships as a team effort with their spouses, who were, of course, often their very best friends.

At The Palace Coral Gables community, prior to their move in date, the sales department gets to know quite a bit about each new resident. A telephone interview is then conducted to learn more about what they enjoy and their personal interests. Many of these facts, key to enhancing the residents’ experience, are entered into The Palace’s Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), which helps maintain an evolving profile of each resident’s likes and dislikes.  When a new resident moves in, every manager at the Palace is alerted.  In casual conversations, the managers and other staff approach new residents and elicit more detail about their interests to help make them feel as comfortable and cared for as possible. This may be considered the first ice- breaker.

One benefit of moving to a premier senior living community is the presence of a social director, whose prime role is to encourage new friendships.

Pam Parker, social director at luxury senior rental community says: “There is no more enjoyable facet of my job than being ‘friendship matchmaker’.” In addition to the community’s Welcoming Committee of residents, whose sole mission is to call on all new arrivals and help them feel at home, Pam takes a special interest in each and every new resident.  She has made an art form of introducing people to others with whom they will “click.”

Among the factors Pam takes into account when making introductions are where potential matches are from most recently or where they had previously lived, a shared professional past or shared hobbies and activities may result in them becoming fast friends.  However, just because someone shares the same professional experiences doesn’t mean their personalities will necessarily click.  Sometimes people without shared past experiences have chemistry.  It’s sort of like dating,” says Ms. Parker.

“It’s my job to help them take the first steps,” she continues.  “It’s like the first day of school.  I think about someone’s personality and interests when I’m introducing people.  Certainly for extroverts its easier but shy people need a little more help.”

To a newly single resident interested in making friends, Pam’s tips include:

  • Take a leap and make the first move.  Staying in your apartment or at home isn’t a way forward.  People will be very welcoming, but you have to give them an opportunity.
  • Look over the activity calendar for something that you enjoy or have always wanted to try.  Start sampling new activities.  You’ll find others who share your interests.  Maybe it’s a book club or discussion group.  These are smaller gatherings that may be less intimidating than a large crowd would be.
  • Join a table of residents at meals rather than dine alone.  They may know each other but are often eager to hear someone else’s story for a change.  You’ll be surprised that sooner rather than later you’ll find common threads with which to knit a relationship.
  • Accept that friendships may be different than when you were younger.  At this age your peers may not be as effusive as a “BFF” but often offer wonderful companionship.  The key to successful aging is social interaction.  Having people to talk to and laugh with is so important.
  • Don’t wait for someone to talk with you.  If you see someone alone be the first to say hello and get the ball rolling.
  • Take advantage of the community’s outings. On the bus, sit next to someone rather than alone.  These opportunities offer an excellent opportunity to strike up a conversation.
  • Think about being a good listener rather than a talker.  Everyone enjoys an audience so by asking leading questions not only will you learn about someone, it takes the burden off of you to talk about yourself.

About The Palace at Coral Gables

The Palace at Coral Gables is inspired by the world-renowned Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris.  The community offers residents extensive services and amenities geared to a luxurious senior lifestyle. For more information and to arrange a tour, please call (305) 445-7444 or visit

About The Palace Group

The Palace Group’s continuum of care also includes senior communities in Kendall including The Palace Suites, a luxurious independent living community; The Palace Royale, a “catered living” community; The Palace Renaissance, an assisted living community; The Palace Nursing &Rehabilitation Center; The Palace Gardens, an assisted living community in Homestead; and Palace Tel-Aviv, a continuing care retirement community in Israel.


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