Making Friends in Our Later Years

They found love and support from new friends in their senior living community.


- Posted on Jun 13, 2019

Billie Sakel (right) and her friends Lenus and Sarah Weisheit harvest vegetables from the garden areas at Northwood Retirement Community in Jasper, Indiana.

Content provided by Good Samaritan Society.

As we age, our relationships with others become more and more important. Studies have shown that loneliness can have a serious affect on a person's health.

But making new friends can be difficult. Health problems such as hearing loss or mobility issues can impede a person's social abilities. Or you may find yourself in a new place, starting a new chapter of your life.

Moving into a senior living community can be a time of great upheaval. But it can also be a blessing for those looking for friendships or a fresh start.

Mission Partners Reconnect

Sometimes, the person you may connect with is someone from your past. Such was the case with Donna Roth.

When Donna was admitted for short-term rehabilitation at Good Samaritan Society – Fort Collins Village in 2015, Fred Pitzl, the center's administrator, wondered if it was the same Donna that he had met as a member of Resurrection Fellowship Church in Loveland, Colorado, more than two decades before. He and Donna had become friends as they prepared for a mission trip to Bulgaria back in 1992.

To Fred's delight, it was indeed the same Donna. And they've spent the past few years reconnecting. They both have fond memories of the time they spent together bringing the gospel to newly post-communist Bulgaria.

"To see Donna, someone who remains so strong and consistent in her faith — it's powerful," says Fred. "It brings back many good memories."

"It's a blessing to reconnect," agrees Donna.

Love of Music Reunites College Co-eds

Carl Kruse and Mabel Sonnevik met while they both attended Bethany-Peniel College (now called Southern Nazarene University) in Bethany, Oklahoma, from 1947 to 1949. They sang in the a capella choir together.

Carl and Mabel reconnected many years later when Mabel was looking for a new apartment. Carl, who lives at Cedar Lake Village in Olathe, Kansas, gave a glowing recommendation of his senior living community and invited Mabel and her family to come for a tour. Church music had always been an important part of Carl's and Mabel's lives, and Carl gave Mabel a CD that he had made of the preludes played before the Cedar Lake Village Sunday church service. Mabel says that played a big part in her moving to Cedar Lake Village.

Carl and Mabel's friendship has enhanced their lives at Cedar Lake Village. "We both enjoy a lot of the same things, and we're able to attend events together at College Church of the Nazarene here in Olathe," says Carl.

"Carl is very involved at Cedar Lake Village, so it helped me to acclimate to this new community, make friends and be accepted," says Mabel. They know a lot of the same people, and are even able to share knowledge of medical services available in the area to improve each other's health.

New Friendships Blossom After Loss

When Billie Sakel's husband, Bob, died, Billie found love and support from her neighbors and the staff at Good Samaritan Society – Northwood Retirement Community in Jasper, Indiana.

"When Bob was sick, we didn't go out much," say Billie. "We had close friends, but many of them have passed on. I wasn't sure how I was going to go on without him." But the other residents at Northwood Retirement Community rallied around her. "They helped me through the grieving process and kept me going," she says.

"We inspire each other to stay active, especially when it comes to exercising. I enjoy hearing their stories and telling mine. After hearing stories about their families, I realized I taught a few of their children and grandchildren when I was a kindergarten teacher.

"Today, I have so many friends here at the center, and we enjoy each other’s company," Billie says. "There is always someone to talk to … I’m never alone unless I want to be. I’m so happy to be here."

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