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Deciding to leave the family home of 30-plus years and move to a retirement community isn’t easy. Our homes are filled with memories and a familiarity we tend to hold on to as we grow older. But memories don’t make dinner conversation, trigger a good laugh, teach you something new or keep you company.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the world’s longest studies of adult life. Over an 80-year span, researchers collected data on the participants’ physical and mental health.
Worth noting, according to researcher George Vaillant, “When the study began, nobody cared about empathy or attachment.
But the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.”
If relationships are key to healthy aging, then living in a retirement community may be the road to vitality and longevity. Here are 10 more reasons why community living is good for the mind, body and soul.
1. Peace of mind – Community living provides a solid support system. Friends and staff are a walk or phone call away. Should an emergency arise, you’re not alone. Living in community provides emotional and spiritual support, not to mention access to on-site health care services if you choose to live in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).
2. Health and joy– Planned activities on and off campus, social events, travel, lifelong learning courses, worship and Bible studies, it’s the little bits of joy that make living in a community fun and exciting. Staying active and engaged keeps the mind sharp and helps slow down cognitive diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. People who live in community experience less isolation, which creates a greater sense of emotional and spiritual well-being.
3. Continuing care – Aging bodies change with time. Expect your health care needs to change too. At some point, you may need rehabilitation following an illness or surgery, physical therapy, respite care or memory care. CCRCs provide on-site health services — a full continuum of care — so you stay living in the community among friends and continue to participate in activities that bring you joy.
4. A sense of purpose – A new report in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that older adults with a solid sense of purpose tend to retain strong hand grips and walking speeds — key indicators of how rapidly people are aging. People who live purposeful lives are also more engaged and less likely to react to stressors, which can impact a person’s cognitive and physical health.
5. Communal dining – Loneliness, lack of appetite and poor nutrition often affect those who eat alone. A good meal with friends feeds our bodies and our souls. Expect good conversation and chef-prepared meals.
6. Wellness services – Many retirement communities offer access to an assortment of wellness services such as audiology, dental care, dermatology, foot care and massage therapy. Wellness nurses can provide health screenings and check on residents who live alone. Exercise programs, a fitness center and personal trainer, pools and saunas, everything you need to stay healthy is a walk away.
7. Transportation – Safe and reliable transportation to the grocery stores, malls, church, off-campus activities and doctor appointments eases the burden of finding transportation to get from one destination to another. Retirement communities provide shuttle services or contract with a ride service. At Covenant Village, many of our residents drive their own cars.
8. Maintenance – Community living is maintenance-free living. There are no snowy driveways or sidewalks to clear after a storm; there are no lawns to mow or gardens to weed — unless you want to. Taking a month-long trip abroad is easy to do with little to no preparation.
9. Time for familes and friends – Without the responsibility of housekeeping or home upkeep, you now have an open schedule to fill however you wish. Travel, visit with family and friends, volunteer in the community or on campus or take a class to learn a new language.
10. Adventures and new endeavors – Retirement communities provide residents with new possibilities. From trips to lifelong learning classes, like the ones we offer at our LifeConnect® University, there are adventures waiting for those who get involved in their community. Residents can try their hand at art classes, learn about world studies, take a cruise with fellow residents, participate in intergenerational programs and so much more.
Living your best life yet could be as simple as residing among your peers with opportunities for fun, purposeful, stress-free living. Learn more about community living by touring a retirement community and taking part in programs or activities that are open to the public. The LifeConnect® University at Covenant Village of Colorado, for example, welcomes older adults to participate in a variety of lifelong learning classes in art, history, music and science. Life’s short, so what are you waiting for?
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