Throughout life, it's great to have friendship, support and quality relationships. Many male seniors are finding these bonding opportunities with men's clubs and fraternities.
"In a world of human disconnect, we need connection," says psychologist Judy Rosenberg of Psychological Healing Center. "Nurturing long-term relationships is invaluable and one way to develop them is to show up at the same place on a regular basis. Clubs and fraternity associations offer this opportunity to connect with like-minded men of similar ages."
Whether it's a charitable group, a dinner club, a religious organization or an athletic association, there is a large variety of social opportunities for men of all ages, particularly seniors.
"Men's clubs and fraternal associations are extremely important to men in order to feel they belong to a group, a community," says Fran Walfish, author and relationship psychotherapist. "Male patients report to me they long for connectedness to a father-figure, a brother, a kinship with like-thinking men whom they can buddy up and relate to on a male, physical, practical, and intellectual level."
Andrew Fritz is a long-time member of Racquet Club of Chicago, a private social and athletic club, which was formerly a Men's Club. He says there are three distinct benefits: fraternity, fidelity and camaraderie.
The club represents a place where members can be themselves, talking, eating and drinking how they want.
"The Men's Club is a place where you can be who want to be without the pretension of fancy trappings," explains Fritz, who goes on to say, "I enjoy having the friendship and confidence of a variety of great guys who I wouldn't ordinarily have the chance to meet and become friends with."
Being "a part of something" makes people feel valuable, which is why clubs can be a great match for older guys.
"Men in particular love to hang with other men, and seniors with seniors," says Rosenberg. "There is something very comfortable about being with people who are at the same stage of life -- (sharing that) in common goes a long way."
Finding a group to join that meets your needs starts with identifying what interests you.
"When you associate with like-minded, like-aged people, there is a sense of familiarity, comfort and a sense of acceptance that we all want and need," says Rosenberg, noting humans are "wired to connect."
She offers these tips:
1) Start with common ground for "an insta-connection," such as a religious affiliation.
2) Look for meet up clubs specific to your interests, such as cars or investing.
3) Join places where fellow senior men would hang out. "Golf clubs, health clubs, art galleries with special events that take place on a regular basis are examples," Rosenberg says.
*Clubs to Consider
While not all clubs are exclusively for men or just seniors, here's a look at some of the popular clubs for service and community:
*Lions Club International
The largest service club organization in the world, Lions Club International, started in Chicago in 1917 with a commitment to serving the community. They're hands-on in their advocacy for improving health, protecting the environment and helping others, such as their campaigns to assist people with vision loss. Lions Club memberships are open to men and women as individuals and families. Currently there are 46,000 clubs and 1.4 million members.
Moose International dates back to 1888, where it started in Louisville to give men the chance "to gather socially, to care for one another's needs and celebrate life together."
Nowadays the organization is focused on community service for kids, teens and seniors. It has a combined membership of over a million members in over 1,500 communities across all 50 states and four Canadian provinces, as well as Great Britain and Bermuda. Both men and women are encouraged to join.
Every year, Moose International contributes $75 million to $100 million worth of community service including monetary donations, volunteer hours worked and miles driven.
*Knights of Columbus
A Catholic fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus focuses on the principles of charity, unity and fraternity. Service in the community is a priority for the organization, which has over 15,100 councils and 1.9 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico and other parts of the world.
The Knights offers financial aid to members and their families, as well as aid and assistance for sick, disabled and needy members and their families.
*ROMEO Club Organization (Retired Older Men Eating Out)
This club, which gives members an opportunity to meet in their community, has hundreds of clubs throughout the U.S. Members typically connect online to meet at local restaurants for food and camaraderie. It's an easygoing way to get together with like-minded seniors once a month or more often.
So go on and join a local club to start networking, and enjoy your new circle of friends.