Gyms in senior living communities are stocked with easy-to-use, safe equipment and may be staffed by personal trainers who can answer any questions or even create fitness plans tailored to your parent or loved one. It can be much easier for your parent or loved one to stick to a gym routine when the fitness center is steps away from their apartment. Additionally, living in a community means your loved one will have the support of other wellness-conscious residents.
Living among others who are conscious of their wellness and physical fitness routines can also inspire your parent or loved one to get moving. Seniors who have diverse social supports and high levels of socialization are more likely to follow a physical fitness routine and incorporate physical activity into their daily habits. For example, exercise classes with other residents can support socialization and help widen your parent’s or loved one’s social circle by encouraging contact with residents with similar interests.
Nature Paths for Walking
At the right senior living community, those who prefer nature will find beautiful grounds with maintained nature paths for walking with friends and family or even a four-legged furry companion.
People assume that senior living communities don’t allow pets, and even just ten years ago, that was true. However, many senior living communities today don’t just tolerate pets—they welcome them. These communities provide dog parks and walking trails so residents and their furry companions can get exercise in. Research shows that dog owners walk approximately 22 minutes longer than those who don’t have a dog.
Maintaining physical fitness isn’t the only benefit of taking a pet out for a stroll. The pets themselves also provide benefits to physical health such as reducing blood pressure and stress-related hormones like cortisol. Research has shown that pets may decrease stress as well as improve heart health.
2. Mental Benefits of Senior Living
Our social circles naturally tend to get smaller as we age. This begins at retirement when work colleagues no longer provide a point of contact each day. Additional factors that dwindle social circles include friends and family moving away, and friends passing away. Transportation difficulties and an empty social calendar can also contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Social isolation can lead to health complications such as:
- High blood pressure
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Decreased immune response
- Cognitive decline
- Safety concerns (if your parent or loved one is living at home alone)
A potential solution to feelings of loneliness and isolation comes with a robust life in a senior living community. Let’s explore some of the top mental health benefits of living in a senior living community.
Improvement in Quality of Life
In a senior living community, residents have the ability to walk down the hall and talk with a friend, participate in scheduled and spontaneous activities, and share meal times with old and new friends. However, an active social circle isn’t the only thing that contributes to an improved quality of life; it’s also the pets.
At Cedarhurst, we recognize that pets are just as much a part of the family as the people in it. Not only do pets contribute to a more active physical fitness routine, but they also provide companionship and unconditional love.
Positive benefits of having a pet include boosting the owner’s mood, reducing loneliness, and providing social support. For example, pets frequently sense their owner’s emotions and needs and respond by giving them love and attention. Dogs are often used as a form of therapy because they have the ability to interpret body language, tone of voice, and gestures and know when someone is struggling.
Feelings of stress are a normal human reaction, and they happen to everyone. The human body is designed to react to stressful situations. However, when stressors continue for an extended period of time without relief or relaxation, they impact our biological processes, which can lead to negative health consequences. Long-term stress can:
- Cause wear and tear on the body such as a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, and depression
- Worsen existing mental health problems, gastrointestinal problems, and cardiovascular diseases
Whether your loved one’s stressors include taking care of a family home that’s too big, coping with a reduced social circle, or struggling with landscaping or meal preparation, senior living communities address these factors. They take care of housekeeping, meals, and landscaping so your parent or loved one can cross all of these tasks off of their to-do list.
Senior living communities also focus on connection and recognize how crucial it is to senior health. Friendships can be more difficult to start and maintain as we age. However, senior living communities regularly offer the opportunity to meet and connect with new friends and neighbors.
Socially active people are better equipped to handle stress, and as a result of being around others, seniors can feel more welcome, comfortable, and relaxed. This reduces the risk of stroke or heart attack while also reducing blood pressure. Additionally, an increased ability to manage stress can boost the immune system.
According to research, there's a link between loneliness and the development of dementia. Individuals between the ages of 45-64 who are frequently lonely are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later in life. However, recovering from loneliness during this period of time can make an individual less likely to develop these conditions.
Socialization, therefore, is crucial to cognitive health, and senior living communities such as Cedarhurst make sure there are plenty of opportunities for nurturing existing social connections and making new ones. Whether it’s special events, programming, or even dinner with other residents, there are plenty of opportunities to support socialization and cognitive function. In fact, those who have frequent social contact have a cognitive decline rate of approximately 70 percent less than people who are isolated.
3. Social Benefits of Senior Living
Connection is important, and senior living communities make connecting with neighbors and friends much easier than living in a house. Residents of senior living communities experience a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of opportunities to make connections and thrive.
Opportunities for New Friends
Your parent or loved one may wonder how they’ll make new friends and fit into a senior living community. Senior living communities make starting a new friendship less stressful and more convenient. Shared spaces such as game rooms, hobby rooms, fitness centers, and dining rooms create natural opportunities for connection, so your parent or loved one can find a new friend or two at events or just by participating in things they love to do!
Socialization has numerous benefits, such as improved mental health, mood, cognition, memory, and even exercise habits. Senior living communities provide daily opportunities for social connection such as activities, volunteer opportunities, and classes.
Senior living provides a town-like atmosphere with friendly neighbors, routines, and special events. Residents have the opportunity to volunteer at local organizations in the wider community, support local businesses by taking the community bus to their favorite shops and restaurants, and attend other events or farmers markets.
Pet-friendly communities don’t just benefit the residents who have a pet, either. Residents who don’t have a pet often visit the apartments of residents with a dog or cat, and staff members often carry treats for the pet when they’re visiting. Additionally, people who have a pet are approximately 60 percent more likely to get to know others around them.
4. Spiritual Benefits of Senior Living
Aging gracefully isn’t about avoiding wrinkles; it’s about embracing rather than fearing age and building a life that one chooses, no matter what one wants from the future. At Cedarhurst, we empower our residents to live a life of their choosing through our commitment to Living TRUESM.
Our TRUE acronym keeps us anchored to our core values:
- Tailored to You: We don’t believe in communities with a one-size-fits-all approach, and we don’t believe that lives are one-size-fits-all, either. We listen to all of our residents and help them shape the life that they want and deserve.
- Relationships of Integrity and Trust: Relationships are what make life worth living. We strive to build an environment of joy where our residents can continuously make new friends. Our staff also values every resident as an individual and partners with them to ensure they make the most of this new step in their life.
- Uplifted to Live Your Best Life: We ensure our residents have what they need to live life on their own terms and help them live as independently and happily as possible.
- Excitement of the Senses: The five senses are a connection to the world around us. We stimulate our residents’ senses with beautiful grounds, delicious foods, and opportunities for joy.
When residents move into one of Cedarhurst’s communities, we ask them to complete a survey that tells us all about them. We want to know our residents well and know how to tailor their experience just as they like it. After this, four times a year we solicit suggestions for enrichment activities and programs your parent or loved one would like. Living TRUESM is all about our residents, which is why we ask.
Our core belief is that every person should feel loved, valued, supported, and able to safely live life to the fullest. This is the foundation of every Cedarhurst community, and no matter whether your parent or loved one is a resident in independent living or receiving a level of care in assisted living or memory care, we strive to ensure that they’re satisfied, happy, and safe.