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Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends® was developed by scholars/practitioners at the Central Union for the Welfare of the Aged at Helsinki University in the early 2000s. It is a group rehabilitation model for older people, who experience loneliness from time to time or daily. The aim is to alleviate and prevent loneliness.

The group of eight meets 12 times in three months to help participants:

  • Make new friends

  • Feel less lonely

  • Share the feelings of loneliness

  • Do and experience meaningful things with other group members

  • Help the groups become self-supportive and encourage them to continue meeting independently

  • Experience group-based, goal-oriented intervention in which participants can influence the meetings' content

Evidence that Circle of Friends Works

Evidence that Circle of Friends® works:

  • Randomized control trial of 235 older adults 75+ years at two years post-intervention (Pitkäla et al., 2009; 2011):
    • 97% survival (90% for Adult Day Services control group) Increased subjective health, decreased health care costs and hospitalizations

    • 2.5% drop-out rate

    • Six of the 15 original groups continued meeting

    • Improved cognition

  • 117 community-dwelling persons 75+ (Routasalo et al., 2008; 2009; Savikko et al., 2009):
    • 95% reported no more loneliness

    • 45-85% made new friends

    • 40% continued meeting

    • Increased feelings of being needed (meaningful activities and meaning to life) and psychological well-being

    • Improved cognition (even at one-year post-intervention) — comparable to anticholinergic inhibitor


Download the Circle of Friends Facilitator Training Guide (PDF)

Available Groups in St. Louis, Missouri

Saint Louis University’s Aging and Memory Clinic offers groups for adults 65 and older who need more social support and connection in their community. The weekly groups meet for 12 weeks and are facilitated online by two facilitators. After 12 weeks, the group members will have the option to continue meeting online or independently. Group members are welcome to invite other individuals who may benefit from the group. For more information, contact the Aging and Memory Clinic at 314-977-9759 or

Facilitator Training Available

We are offering an asynchronous webinar presentation that addresses loneliness in older people and interventions to help them cope. 

Watch the Circle of Friends Training recorded June 4, 2021

Watch the Circle of Friends Training August, 2020

After viewing either of the training videos please complete the evaluation.

Complete the Evaluation

If you have any questions for the presenters please email them to and their response will be emailed back to you. If you would like a Certificate of Completion, please send a request to and a certificate will be emailed within 30 days.