Living in a place that provides a sense of community, socialization, and fun, like a senior living community, can be a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, living alone can have quite the opposite effect.
12 million men and woman over the age of 65 live alone. Let that sink in. 12 million seniors live by themselves. A majority of those seniors are not always able to leave their house due to health, finances, or other reasons. These seniors may be lacking key socialization aspects of their lives that can contribute to serious mental and physical health problems.
One of the most serious is dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease. If you have a social network, or community, that you’re a part of, then the speed at which mental decline takes hold is significantly slower. This means that living alone and rarely being a part of something, be it having coffee with friends, going to see family, etc., can actually increase your chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other related mental impairments.
Humans are social. That’s a common fact. Being around other people is something we thoroughly enjoy. We love being a part of something bigger, like a community or project. We do enjoy some alone time, but generally it’s a small amount, then it’s right back to being around people.
Most people encourage children to socialize as they get older, by setting up play-dates, sleepovers, and other events that involve interaction. Often, encouraging the socialization of our seniors in a similar way is not something that people do, probably for fear of making seniors feel like we’re treating them like children. While play-dates and sleepovers might not be the best choice for senior socialization, things that are more age appropriate, like card games with friends, a walk in a park with family, or something similar, are certainly encouraged to foster better socialization opportunities. Although, to step back to a previous point, if your senior family members have younger grand-kids, and they’re capable of watching them, setting up a play-date or sleepover with grandpa and/or grandma, might actually be beneficial to both children and grandparents.
Socialization Within Community Is Key
Regular socialization is a good thing. It has been shown to boost not only confidence, but the immune system as well. This is due to the body releasing harmful chemicals when depression sets in. When the body is happy these chemicals are nonexistent and do not hinder the immune system.
Being a part of a community is not only good for an individual’s well-being. It’s also good for the community. The more involved a community is with projects, fun, socialization, the better off the community tends to be. Or, rather, the stronger the community tends to be. The more people contributing to the community the stronger the community becomes. The real takeaway is that the stronger the community, the healthier and happier its members are.
The longer a person live the more likely they are to lose their abilities to provide for themselves. While not true with everyone, this becomes a common situation. Older people tend to need more assistance in their lives the older they get. The garbage gets too heavy, the step into the bathtub becomes too high, etc. Because of this, and the fact that families are not always able to be around their loved ones that need help, seniors can tend to decline in quality of life. When this happens, depression and loneliness can take hold. Depression can snowball a person into further depression, and in turn releasing immune system harming hormones, like cortisol, into the body.
Being a part of a community and socializing can completely stop this in its tracks. While there is a difference between being alone and feeling alone, seniors in senior living communities tend to feel more like a part of something and feel less alone. Regular visits from family and close friends can also help the feelings of being alone.
So what’s the best way to combat the effects of living alone? Simple: don’t live alone. Moving into a senior living community, like Bonaventure Senior Living, is the best thing you can do for yourself as you get older. The reasons are endless. You no longer have to cook for yourself, unless you want to. No more worrying about housework. You have lots of planned activities that can fill every day of the week. There are outings to exciting places. Each and every Bonaventure community is just that: a community. There’s a lot of people to make friends with and end the lack of socialization that comes with living alone.
If you’re curious to see what a Bonaventure Senior Living community looks and feels like, check out these videos on our YouTube page. You can also see our Twitter where we have photos of our communities and their happenings.