By ROBIN CRAIG
Our series of Rightsizing Your Life articles have focused on the concept of rightsizing, which is a process that begins with an important question that adults should ask themselves as they age: “Does my current living arrangement meet my
evolving needs and interests?”
There are many ways to answer this question, since the needs and interests of every person can vary. One need that is universal, however, is the need to have meaningful connections with other people.
Social isolation and loneliness are serious concerns among older adults, and addressing this need to establish connections with others is a factor that should always be considered in the rightsizing process.
According to an AARP study, 35% of older adults surveyed reported that they were lonely. Extrapolated to the entire population, this means that nearly 43 million older adults are experiencing loneliness and isolation. Aside from the
mental and emotional toll of feeling disconnected, loneliness can have very serious physical health impacts. A medical research study found that lonely adults have an increased risk for developing coronary heart disease and having a
stroke. The risk factor of being lonely, in other words, is just as severe as the risks associated with smoking or being obese.
On the other hand, a sense of connectedness and belonging can have very positive effects on older adults. For example, research has found that membership in social groups helps reduce the risk of premature death in retirees. To that end, the benefit of social group membership is comparative to physical exercise, in terms of the protective health benefits it provides. Plus, continued social engagement maintains thinking skills and slows cognitive decline, which means adults who remain connected with family and friends have a lower risk of developing dementia.
Despite the obvious benefits of remaining connected, and the detriments of isolation, it is not always easy for older adults to fight loneliness. Luckily, there are simple steps that can be taken to get started.
Setting up a regular coffee or tea date with a friend is a great idea, or taking your dog to the park and interacting with other people there. Websites like VolunteerMatch can connect you with local volunteer opportunities that match your interests. Local churches and synagogues are also great sources for volunteer opportunities, as well as other group activities that can get you involved in the community.
Another way to fight loneliness is for older adults to move to an active adult or Independent Living community. Aside from offering the chance to live in a communal environment of like-minded peers, these types of communities often
offer a host of social clubs, groups, and activities to keep residents engaged and connected with each other: from yoga classes and wine clubs to volunteer events and resident committees.
With so many opportunities for connection and inclusion available right at home, residents don’t need to look far for chances to meet new people and interact with
As older adults think about rightsizing their lives, it is essential that they consider their need for connectedness and inclusion. Beyond the location of a new home or the designer features it offers, the right home should provide them with all the opportunities they want and need to enjoy their life and thrive.
About the Author
Robin Craig is the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Avenida Partners, which is building a fresh, new service-enriched, active 55+ lifestyle community at the former WAKM radio station site on Mallory Station Road.
Avenida Cool Springs will offer 142 gracious apartment homes ready for move-in in early 2019, boasting more than 12,000 square feet of resort-style amenity space to fulfill the diverse and expanding preferences of mature Middle Tennesseans.
For more information about Avenida Cool Springs or to inquire about pre-leasing before the sales center opens in May 2018, visit www.avenidacoolsprings.com or contact Avenida directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 615-506-5091.