We often discuss how medical needs change when we age. While physical limitations and medical needs may increase, it’s important to not overlook mental health. Our emotional and mental wellbeing is essential to overall health.
According to the National Institute on Aging, almost three in 10 seniors in the United States live alone. That amounts to almost 13.8 million people. That’s ok if each person can care for themselves and fit enough social interaction into their average day.
The problem is that not all seniors have access to a support network. They may not have any peers nearby to spend time with or friends and family to check in.
Living alone also leaves them vulnerable to other problems. If physical challenges reduce strength and mobility, a senior could find themselves unable to handle activities of daily living like preparing food, cleaning, or bathing. This problem will lead to health and safety risks if no one is around to notice changes and provide assistance.
Many elderly people choose to move into a group living situation to prevent these problems. Assisted living communities are a popular choice because they are equipped to handle the changing needs of seniors.
Assisted living facilities supply ample opportunities for socialization. What can a move into a retirement community do for your aging loved one?
- Gives Seniors Access to a Group of Peers
When a person gets older, they will likely face the loss of friends and family members. The oldest among us are usually the ones who have lost the most people in their lives. It’s a sad truth that can weigh heavily on a person’s mind.
Negative feelings can be exacerbated when those losses lead to a smaller social circle. Fewer people to interact with can cause feelings of loneliness which can develop into depression. Our mental health state has a direct impact on quality of life and longevity.
Assisted living communities give residents access to a group of peers. Each person in a facility has their own living space but can also move into communal areas to meet with others. It creates opportunities to make new friends – which can significantly improve a senior’s wellbeing and outlook on life.
- Hosts Events and Parties That Enrich Senior Life
Assisted living communities work hard to encourage socializing and bonding among residents. One great way to do that is through events and parties.
Most facilities have at least one person whose job is to plan a full events calendar. What’s included will vary from one community to another. However, all usually include things like holiday dinners, fitness groups, craft sessions, and hobby or interest groups.
For example, some communities organize book clubs where residents can come together and discuss books they read together. Others may have on-site gardens for residents who like to spend time outdoors.
There’s always something going on in an assisted living community. Your loved one will have access to a long list of events, parties, and groups that make life more interesting. A variety of activities help prevent depression and inspire social interactions.
- Encourages Growth and Personal Development in Seniors
You are never too young to learn something new. Assisted living communities host classes that give residents a chance to develop their skills. They may also work with local colleges to provide senior-friendly courses.
Lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors. The practice increases neuron generation in the brain. Neurons send information throughout the body and support attention span, memory, reasoning, and thinking. More neurons also help lower the risk of some types of dementia.
Along with socializing in classes, seniors also tend to be better prepared to adapt to changes when they are active learners. Exposure to new experiences can lower blood pressure, muscle tension, and stress levels. These benefits help a person cope with challenges and obstacles in other parts of their life.
- Ensures That Someone is Always Checking In
Isolation leaves a senior vulnerable to health and safety risks. Moving into an assisted living community removes isolation as a potential risk factor.
There’s always someone around to speak to in a retirement community. Choose a facility with 24-hour staff on-site so your loved one never feels like assistance is out of reach. Residents can quickly request help if they fall or have trouble completing a task.
Senior living homes also tend to be designed with the needs of the elderly in mind. They will have more safety features like railings and non-slip mats, which further decreases the risk of injury.
If something happens, your loved one won’t be alone in assisted living. Someone is always close by to help.
- Assisted Living Means More Free Time to Socialize
An older person may have trouble keeping up with independent living conditions. Living alone means you have to do the cleaning, cooking, and home maintenance. Physical changes and limited mobility can make it impossible to do the things a senior once handled without support.
Moving into assisted living eliminates these concerns. Residents don’t have to worry about cleaning, repairs, and general maintenance. All these responsibilities are handled by staff so residents can spend more time socializing and enjoying their golden years.
- Easy Access to Mental Health Care and Professionals
In the past, people did not have as much access to mental health services as they do now. If you experienced depression, anxiety, or other mental conditions, you may have suffered in silence on your own.
Now, we have a better understanding of the importance of a healthy mind. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to get help when they need it. Assisted living communities provide easier access to professionals.
Staff can make appointments with therapists and counselors. They will also check in with residents to ensure that they get support as needed in case their mental health status changes.
- Lowers the Risk of Loneliness and Depression in Seniors
Around 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition while about 50% have at least two. Illnesses like cancer and heart disease increase a senior’s risk of depression.
Older adults are also often undertreated or misdiagnosed. Healthcare providers may incorrectly associate symptoms of depression with normal aging. It’s important to emphasize that depression is not a normal part of getting older.
Assisted living comes with a built-in community for seniors, making it much easier to connect with others and prevent isolation. They also make services and activities more accessible. With staff constantly keeping watch, residents are less likely to become depressed or live with untreated depression for an extended period.
Many residents find a sense of purpose in assisted living. Some may help new residents adapt or join a group or committee. Some even support charities and non-profits. Having a sense of purpose is another good way to prevent depression and isolation.
Vista Living Senior Care encourages residents to live happy, fulfilling lives. Get in touch now to find out how we help our seniors manage their mental health.