Social isolation and loneliness are significant problems among seniors. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated.
Many seniors experience social isolation for reasons such as lack of transportation due to driving limitations, living alone, and poor health. Having the opportunity to connect with other people and being able to participate in social and recreational activities is critical for older adults.
Many seniors initially consider moving to an assisted living community because they need help with activities of daily living (ADLs). However, the robust and active lifestyles offered in assisted living communities also benefit seniors.
Many senior living communities are moving away from a care-first approach to a wellness lifestyle to meet the demand of seniors who want to maintain and improve their health. A study performed by The International Council on Active Aging reports that 60% of senior living professionals said their communities will be based on a wellness lifestyle by 2023.
Below are important ways social connections protect the health and wellness of seniors in assisted living communities:
Social Connections Improve Physical Health
Seniors who experience social isolation and loneliness are at risk for a variety of physical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, dementia, and a weakened immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The socially robust environments of senior living communities benefit the health of residents in the following ways:
- Disease prevention
- Longer life
- Improved cognitive function
- Fewer chronic health problems
Being able to form social connections with other seniors and having the opportunity to participate in activities with peers is critical for older adults.
Residents in assisted living communities have access to various fun activities and recreational events that contribute to their health and wellness:
- Cultural programs
- Art classes
- Book clubs
- Lunch outings to local restaurants
- Health clinics
- Health talks
- Walking groups
- Fitness classes
- Spirituality groups
- Ecumenical services
Social Connections Protect Mental Health
Although mental health often takes a backseat to physical health, mental health is a critical component of health and wellness, especially for seniors.
Seniors who report feeling lonely often experience:
- Increased anxiety
Assisted living communities protect the mental health of residents with everything from weekly yoga classes to meditation studios.
Whether residents are meeting new people at events, group activities, classes, or enjoying dinner with a new friend, these social connections are beneficial to seniors’ mental health and quality of life.
Improves Self Worth
Post-retirement life can lead to a decreased sense of self-purpose and self-worth. This is because we spend the majority of our life committed to our careers and children. As a result, once we retire and our children become adults, many go through a difficult adjustment period.
Seniors in assisted living communities often thrive once they’re part of an active social community with their peers.
Residents in assisted living communities have access to a variety of diverse educational programs, volunteer opportunities, voter registration drives, and more.
Community involvement, educational opportunities, and social connections help seniors combat feelings of isolation, loneliness, and negative self-images.
About Notre Dame Health Care
Are you interested in finding out more about Notre Dame Health Care’s senior living options? Schedule a tour or call us at (508) 852-5800.