Maybe you’re a senior thinking of making the transition into an assisted living facility. Or perhaps you have an elderly loved one who needs to make the change. No matter your position, change can be scary despite the numerous benefits that an assisted living facility can provide you or your loved one. In fact, a significant benefit of moving into an assisted living community is the opportunity for socialization.
Benefits of Senior Socialization
People of all ages need socialization to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but especially senior adults. Isolation and loneliness in the elderly can be detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional health. Older adults who live at home alone, even those with great in-home care, face an increased risk of experiencing loneliness, which in turn can increase their risk of depression, poor nutrition, and cognitive decline. The antidote? Consistent socialization.
Socialization after a period of loneliness is like a bright and sunshiny day after a week of dreary weather. And similarly to a good dose of Vitamin D, the benefits are experienced almost immediately and include improved mental health, nutrition, and even physical health.
Socialization at an Assisted Living Facility
There are many benefits to moving into an assisted living community, but the easy access to activities of senior socialization, reducing loneliness and social opportunities are at the top. An assisted living community can help you:
- Live your best life. Sometimes, people view moving to an assisted living facility or community as letting go of their independence or succumbing to old age. But that could not be farther from the truth! Assisted living communities help seniors to thrive, and opportunities for socialization abound. From common areas and shared dining to group outings and activities, you can easily incorporate socializing into your life, whether you are a social butterfly or tend to be more shy.
- Make new friendships. When you think of making new friends, do you picture yourself as a young child? Many people underestimate the importance of making friends as a senior adult. As a child, maybe making friendships came easily to you, but now as an adult, it’s harder. However, friendships that begin later in life can have more substance and relational value. You’ll have a whole lifetime of experiences and stories to catch up on!
For new residents of an assisted living community, here are some tips to help you start socializing:
- Start small. Please don’t feel like you have to sign up for every activity and outing at once. Simply eating your meals in a community dining space and starting a conversation with someone new can lead to a lasting friendship and make a huge difference. You can also begin to get to know your new neighbors one at a time.
- Branch out and try something new. It’s never too late to start a new hobby or foster a new interest! Participating in activities like crafts, parties, exercise programs, discussions, and trips is a great way to meet new people with shared interests.
For family members or friends of a senior adult moving to an assisted living facility, here are some ways you can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation in your loved ones:
- Be there on moving day. Whether your loved one is excited about moving in, or they are feeling a bit nervous, it’s important to be there for them on moving day if you can. Just having a familiar face to help them get settled in, attend their first meal, and walk around the grounds, can make it feel like home.
- Help build a social calendar. Look through the activities calendar with your loved one, and help them choose an event or two that might catch their interest. Encourage them to jump right in!
- Keep visiting. Senior socialization includes family, too! While your loved one needs to focus on creating new friends and getting involved in their new community, pre-existing relationships with friends and family are just as meaningful. Don’t avoid visiting because you feel your loved one is busy.