Social life is essential to our health and happiness. Scientific studies have proven that the more isolated and lonely we feel, the more likely we are to experience health problems. For aging adults in particular, living within a vibrant culture has direct health benefits.
Community and Health
We often think of families as a senior's primary source of community, but bearing the total responsibility for a parent's social life can be a strain on family members. Senior living communities are a wonderful source of support for aging adults and their families.
A 2012 study by researchers at University College London found that social isolation was associated with chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, and depressive symptoms. Other research states that, "individuals who lack social connections or report frequent feelings of loneliness tend to suffer higher rates of morbidity and mortality, as well as infection, depression, and cognitive decline."
Feeling connected within our social environment is a fundamental part of health and happiness. Senior living facilities are designed with this fact in mind. These communities help seniors feel like they belong, which significantly increases life expectancy.
Community Features to Enhance Wellbeing
As you and your aging loved one choose a senior living facility, look for the culture that best fits their needs. A healthy community will offer a variety of social events to encourage residents' involvement. This enables seniors to feel welcome and confident as they get established in their new home.
The best communities offer features and amenities which enhance wellbeing. Rooms should be vibrant and appealing so that your aging loved one feels at home, in addition to offering the best safety features.
Dining options are also important to consider. Does this facility offer a variety of fresh, healthy options? It's important to find great cuisine so that your senior's appetite stays strong. Mealtimes are also great for socializing with other residents.
Activities to Enhance Social Support
High-quality senior living involves activities and events that help residents connect with each other. In addition to relaxing and having fun, social events keep aging adults' cognitive abilities strong. The mental exercises of reminiscing, laughing together, and getting to know new people is an essential part of remaining healthy and active while we age.
Here are a few ways communities can provide active community involvement for residents. If your loved one's facility has a light social calendar, find out if you can get involved in planning some activities.
Reminiscence groups give seniors an opportunity to share their favorite memories. This will increase self-awareness which strengthens mental capacity and overall health.
Group exercises like zumba or yoga are great community events.
Start a singing group for musical residents. Local music teachers may be interested in getting their students involved.
Local museums, libraries, and community centers often have tours and educational programs available for seniors. These activities make excellent field trips.
Weekly or monthly game nights are usually very popular.
For seniors with literary or political interests, try a discussion groups of books, films, or current events.
Holiday and birthday parties are always a great opportunity for social connections. The planning and setup process can also be a lot of fun with more residents involved!
These are just a few of the ways senior living culture can benefit you or your senior loved one. Staying active and involved in our community brings many essential health benefits, and the support within a robust senior living community will keep our golden years healthy and happy.