Getting to know your neighbors is a good thing to do regardless of how many friends you currently have. Befriending the elderly folks in your neighborhood is an especially good idea and can enhance your life in ways you hadn’t realized before.
Helping Someone Else Feels Good
Your elderly neighbors probably can’t get around like they once did, so offering to go to the store or do a few errands for them can greatly improve their quality of life. It can also add to your own well-being. Volunteering gives you a sense of satisfaction that goes beyond the surface, adding to the genuine happiness you’ll feel about your life. (Here's a few more options for volunteer work.)
What’s more, offering assistance to someone else puts the focus on something other than your own problems and issues. It helps you see beyond the feelings that might be holding you back and gives you a greater sense of possibility.
They Know the Ins and Outs of the Entire Neighborhood
Most of the older people in your neighborhood have probably lived there for years, so you’ll find out more about your community by chatting with them. They might even be able to tell you more about your own house than you knew before.
Since they probably know (or at least have met) more of your neighbors, you'll have a chance to get the scoop on who's who. It will give you more detail you can use to make small talk with your neighbors when you see them out and about.
You’ll Practice Your Listening Skills
Some older people are lonely and just want someone near that they can share their stories with. By listening to what they have to say, you’ll not only gain a wider perspective on life but you’ll practice the art of listening.
Listening benefits you because you get to learn things about your new friend and discover what you both have in common. It’s a pleasant surprise to realize you bond over something that you didn’t know about. What’s more, being a good listener adds to your conversation skills with others.
You Might End Up With a Mentor
You never know, you and your elderly neighbor could form such a strong bond that they will become a mentor for you. A mentor is different than just a friend. It’s someone who shares with you their wisdom and counsels you on all the questions of life.
Mentors can make a huge difference in your life, and having one that lives near you gives you greater access to face-to-face interaction. One study found that Sun Microsystems mentorees (those being mentored by someone) were “promoted five times more often than those who were not formally mentored.” I think this is because mentors help us move away from immature and unproductive behaviors that we don’t even realize are a part of our life.
Improve Communication Throughout Your Neighborhood
When one or two people start reaching out to others in the neighborhood, it creates improvement on all levels of communication. Neighbors are no longer isolated, and disputes and misunderstandings can be resolved more quickly.
By showing your other neighbors that you’re interested in everyone who lives near you, not just those who share your age, you’re setting an example for everyone. This will inspire others to reach out and be friendlier to those living around them as well.