The belief that aging seniors can maintain their independence by staying in their homes or “aging-in-place” is changing. This is in part because so many seniors are aging alone. Additionally, older adults cope with age-related limitations like untreated hearing loss, mobility impairments and being unable to drive. Because of this, they face a combination of loneliness, isolation and limitations at home bringing about a loss of independence. Further, family and friends in the community where a senior lives may no longer be close by or might have moved or passed on.
It is also becoming increasingly clear that the health effects of long-term isolation are measurable. In fact, recent studies suggest a stronger link than previously thought between isolation and the onset of dementia.
It is human nature to want to feel independent but also important to consider the risks of staying alone at home as we age. We all agree that the best remedy for loneliness is staying connected and interacting with others. To help fight loneliness we need to keep connecting with others and making new acquaintances but this gets more difficult on one’s own.
Those who live in a senior community today understand the risks a bit better as they have seen the benefits of living in a community setting. At the Brookhouse Home, many of our residents often tell us, “I wish I would have moved sooner.” And their family members tell us, “We’ve seen our loved one blossom in the last few months!”
Here’s why senior living may be the way to go, according to a recent article, whether it be in a retirement community or here at the Brookhouse Home, a level IV rest home for women.
1. Senior living brings people together. Coffee socials, happy hours, and even chatting over lunch helps to grow those meaningful relationships that increase health and longevity.
2. Senior living provides opportunities for purposeful engagement in daily life. Many residents like to share interests with friends.
3. Senior living communities usually have physical fitness facilities and exercise classes to participate in. They may even offer discounts or rides to local senior centers or health clubs.
4. Senior communities often provide educational opportunities for lifelong learning. They usually have book or travel clubs, bring in speakers, or host community education in their common rooms.
Are you at risk for social isolation? The AARP Foundation offers an online assessment test here called Connect2Affect .
Resources that informed this article include Government’s Role in Fighting Loneliness by Emily Holland, as published in the Wall Street Journal.