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Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on February 12th, 2021

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Can Community Living Actually Help You Live a Longer, Healthier Life?

Independent Senior Living  |  senior living homes  |  Aging & Caregiving  |  dependent senior living

If you read our last blog article, The Secret to Health & Longevity That’s Too Important to Miss , you are familiar with the concept of “The Village Effect.” This metaphor for how human connection significantly impacts our minds and bodies points to the powerful link between socialization and lifespan. It’s an incredible concept supported by studies in social neuroscience, and it makes the case for just how important human connection is in the life of a senior.

For many seniors, the key to achieving and maintaining that connection is choosing to make a senior living community their home. Why? Because senior living communities offer a range of “village” touch points, enabling seniors to engage in plentiful socialization activities rather than isolate themselves and suffer the ensuing effects of loneliness.


To help make this reality even more apparent, here are some the most fundamental ways community living can help seniors live a longer, healthier and happier life.


Proximity to Neighbors


If you or an aging loved one are limited in mobility or otherwise unable (or unwilling) to get out and meet new people, overall health may begin to decline as a result. In a senior living community, however, there are far easier, more prevalent ways to get to know neighbors and make connections on a daily basis. This newfound network of friends and peers can push back any feelings of isolation that may have begun to set in.


The truth is many seniors who live at home spend their days waiting for busy family members to call or visit. But instead of waiting around on others, you or the senior in your life can choose a community setting, where you’re free to take advantage of unique social connections and opportunities for enjoyment. There’s the opportunity to join clubs, participate in activities, engage in social outings, play games—whatever makes you or your aging loved one feel alive and connected. And you have the freedom to engage in these activities based on your own comfort level.


For seniors who want to spend their time having fun and interacting with others, here are a few simple ideas for getting to know neighbors and forming meaningful social connections in a senior living community:


  • Start up a conversation in the dining room and get to know the residents who share your table.
  • Enjoy your cup of coffee with a friend in a common area
  • Read the newspaper and chat about current events
  • Acquire a new skill in one of the educational activities classes
  • Opt to participate in community volunteer efforts
  • Join or organize a walking club to stroll regularly with friends
  • Invite new friends to visit with you in your apartment
  • Schedule a movie night and watch a favorite film together


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Planned Social Engagements


Another of the many benefits of residing in a senior living community is the variety of opportunities to connect with others through coordinated social events. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of regularly scheduled activities and ongoing programs that are designed specifically to educate, inspire and entertain, all with individual interests in mind.


Most communities publish a monthly or weekly activities calendar that lists the different programs and events that are being offered on particular days. This could include anything from daily exercise class and discussion groups to weekly shopping trips, movies, volunteer opportunities and more. For both family members and residents, this is a phenomenal resource. It takes the work out of creating opportunities for socialization and brings residents together to connect on the interests and activities they enjoy.


Accessible Transportation


Senior living communities usually make transportation more accessible for an aging adult. If the time is drawing near when driving is a safety or financial issue, and being transported by a caregiver is not always practical, this can impede a senior’s capacity to stay social and connected. Senior living communities typically offer transportation services designed to shuttle seniors anywhere from local shopping centers to community events, making socialization that much more attainable.


Warm Staff Relationships


By fostering compassionate relationships, the staff plays an essential role in helping residents navigate the journey of aging—from the very first visit to move-in day, and every day thereafter. It’s about having dedicated and hardworking people, always ready with a warm greeting and a smile, who prioritize the dignity and respect of residents above all else. From the front desk and administration to the culinary staff, nurses, transportation providers and beyond, the team of staff are yet another touch point for human connection and socialization.


Particularly at a senior living community focused on relationship-centered care, the staff members are one of the main reasons why residents feel so at home. Team members work hard to create a warm family atmosphere, and they understand the challenges faced by families caring for older adults.


A Sense of Independence


At first, it might seem like independence doesn’t exactly intersect with the idea of fostering human connection. And yet, it does.


Staff in senior living communities sometimes see new residents who arrive frail and dependent—those who’d been living alone, not eating properly, not connecting with people or engaging in stimulating activities. They struggle to bathe and dress themselves or get in and out of the bathroom.


When left to manage these activities on their own, and without essential support and human interaction for too long, they become exhausted. It’s a form of exhaustion that can result in tangible impacts on their physical and mental health, which greatly diminishes their overall level of independence.


For those willing to embrace the kind of assistance and support that comes with living in a senior living community, they find that opening themselves up to some assistance gives them greater energy and enthusiasm for living an enriched and purposeful life—the very essence of independence and the very source of human connection. With a customized care plan that’s uniquely designed to promote independence, you or the senior in your life can not only maintain dignity and usefulness, but also thrive in a way you might never have imagined.


If you or your loved one could benefit from a more supportive “village” in your life, it may be time to consider senior living options. Think about touring the communities in your area, and find out what makes this an ideal choice for so many seniors.


Interested in learning how United Methodist Homes’ senior living community provides a wealth of offerings and opportunities to support the health and wellbeing of our residents? Contact us today or schedule a complimentary visit now.


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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.