Selecting a senior living community for yourself or the senior in your life can be a stressful and overwhelming process beginning with the initial decision to move. Perhaps you want peace of mind that Mom is getting the nutrition and medication reminders she needs. Maybe lack of transportation is keeping Dad isolated and he is becoming withdrawn. Or, it could be that you just aren’t up to the yard work and maintenance that owning a home typically requires. Regardless of the primary reason for moving, it’s important for families and individuals to understand all the benefits that come from being in a community of like-minded individuals with programs, activities and environments specifically designed for older adults.
The National Wellness Institute identifies six dimensions of wellness that everyone needs to achieve a happier, healthier self:
In order to thrive emotionally, individuals need a support network and engaging activities that seniors often lack when they are isolated from friends and family. Senior living communities provide an opportunity for residents to interact on a daily basis, allowing personal relationships to form which creates a support system outside of the family unit.
And don’t underestimate the value of peer-to-peer bonding. Building interpersonal connections with others who share your challenges can help reduce symptoms of depression.
Regular physical activity can lead to significant health benefits in seniors, such as reduced risk of falling, stroke and heart disease. Wellness programs found in senior living communities may offer activities like yoga to help with balance, tai chi to improve coordination or gardening to provide strength training. Studies show that exercise does not have to be intensive in order to be beneficial, but indicate that moderate, daily activity is key to receiving maximum results.
Community life and worship is an important wellness component to many lives. Lack of transportation or mobility can keep seniors from attending their place of worship. Senior communities often have a chapel onsite with a chaplain to
provide spiritual enrichment or may provide transportation to the resident’s own church, temple or synagogue
Studies suggest that engaging in brain boosting activities do more than just keep your mind sharp. Keeping your brain active every day by exploring new hobbies, playing games or working puzzles may help you live longer and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Senior living communities offer a wide-variety of on-campus and off-campus activities to help keep cognitive skills intact by creating an environment centered on lifelong learning.
Socialization can improve both quality and length of life and staying socially connected grows increasingly difficult with age. Isolation due to living alone, having a small social network or lack of participation in social activities can have a direct impact on one’s health, increasing the likelihood of chronic health problems. Community dining like those found in senior living communities not only create opportunities for socialization, but also give seniors access to well-balanced meals. A poor diet can lead to a weakened immune system, but communities provide the convenience of on-site dining with chef-prepared meals so it’s easier to eat well.
The opportunity to stay engaged in the community while utilizing your unique set of skills is a crucial step to achieving overall wellness. Many senior living communities offer volunteer opportunities for their residents based on their interests and abilities. Seniors can get involved with local charities, host support groups or mentor children. Volunteerism is beneficial for seniors in a number of ways, not only does it have mental and physical benefits, but it also helps improve the perception of seniors in society.
The advantages of belonging to a senior living community are too important to ignore. Seniors who choose to live in communities designed with their interests and abilities in mind will be healthier, happier and will live longer. Combine that with the maintenance-free living, care and safety that senior residences offer and the decision to move into a community just became much easier.