While social connections definitely make life more fun, most of us don’t really consider them vital to our health. Until those connections begin to dwindle, as they often do when we get older – as friends move, and loved ones pass away and it becomes harder to get out and about – the impact on your health can be more significant than you realize. That’s why senior living communities put such a focus on social connections. Learn what you can expect and how the social aspect of daily life in senior living communities contributes to healthy aging.
Social Connection and Healthy Aging
It’s not surprising that seniors with strong social connections have a lower risk of anxiety and depression. But physically, seniors with strong social connections also have a lower risk for Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease as well as some forms of cancer and even a lower death rate than those who don’t, according to the National Institute on Aging.
And while it’s not necessarily the quantity of connections that you have, but rather the quality, the fact remains that seniors may have less opportunity to be social at all because of:
- Living alone
- Hearing/vision loss
- Limited mobility
- Limited transportation options
- Being a caregiver for someone with a serious condition
- Chronic health conditions
- Psychological or cognitive challenges
To put this into perspective, the Pew Research Center reports that seniors who live by themselves, on average, spend about ten and a half hours alone each day. But even those who live with someone, other than a spouse, still have an average of seven and a half hours of alone time each day.
Opportunities for Social Connection in Senior Living
Senior living gives you that opportunity in spades. In fact, social connection is one of the biggest draws of senior living. It’s just so much easier to achieve in communities like ours than on your own at home. For example, each of our communities has a Life Enrichment Director dedicated to filling the monthly calendar with classes that fit any interest from cooking to crafts to fitness, as well as clubs, socials, games, volunteer opportunities, bible studies and/or church services, outings and even special events like live entertainment or seasonal fun.
It’s all part of our signature Daily Living program where we not only encourage you to maintain the connections with friends and family that you already have, but also help you to expand your social network as well by taking the time to learn what our residents like to do and what they’d like to try.
Even the design of our communities makes it easy to connect with lovely common areas to host family and friends as well as beautiful gardens, courtyards and walking paths where residents like to gather and enjoy nature. Not to mention amenities that may include an on-site salon and spa, 24-hour fitness center, bistro café, cinema-style movie theatre, game room with billiards and dedicated art studio. Many of our communities are even pet friendly which is another important connection for seniors.