Winter brings moments of seasonal beauty such as fresh snow draping tree branches and holiday lights, however, shorter days and cold weather also can bring on cabin fever. Despite the additional challenges that we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic, senior communities continue to offer opportunities for older adults to stay engaged and help make bleak days enjoyable.
There are numerous benefits to staying social and engaging in life. According to a study by the University of Rochester, seniors who are socially active enjoy a plethora of health benefits including reduced risk of diseases such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. And seniors who lead fulfilling lives tend to live longer largely because they are happy and content.
The pandemic has forced many of us to experience the consequences of becoming disengaged with society first-hand as stay-at-home orders are issued, entertainment options closed and gathering places such as restaurants and bars limited in service offerings. These times are providing a rare look at how seniors may feel when they are isolated at home.
Senior communities have been under much scrutiny as COVID restrictions continue to change. But during this time, even with increase social distancing protocols, senior communities have found the connections made within those walls have become even stronger.
As people age, they often find themselves spending more and more time at home alone. Further research from the National Institute on Aging encourages seniors to maintain social connections and remain engaged in life. Social activities offered at senior communities help keep seniors’ minds sharp and mentally engaged, warding off loneliness which often results in older adults failing to thrive. In other words, senior communities provide outlets for older adults to find joy in life.
We are living through difficult times. Like you, residents at senior communities yearn to gather together again for group activities and in-person dining experiences, which were daily occurrences prior to COVID-19. As we remain socially distanced to maintain safety, and wear masks, co-workers at senior communities are using creativity to help keep older adults engaged in life.
- Residents who enjoy making crafts and creating art can still enjoy their hobbies. All-in-one activity packets are distributed to resident apartments in senior communities. When complete, seniors’ creations are shared for everyone to enjoy.
- Older adults who enjoy entertainment can tune in to many senior communities’ in-house television channels to watch concerts performed by local community groups and entertainers.
- Those seeking interaction with family members can connect with loved ones using electronic tools and devices. Co-workers at senior communities are happy to assist in making residents’ days by using technology to connect families.
In addition to providing opportunities to remain engaged in life by participating in activities, entertainment, outings and all that life has to offer, senior communities offer one of the most important keys to happiness: many neighbors in the same age group provide numerous opportunities to develop friendships.
Research tells us that older people with an active lifestyle are less likely to develop certain diseases, happier and less depressed, better prepared to cope with loss and may be able to improve cognitive abilities.
Whether you live in one of our senior communities or in your own home, here are some ideas for safe social engagement:
- Connect with neighbors by hosting a socially distanced happy hour where guests stay in their own doorways. If you live alone, schedule a virtual happy hour using a video conference app such as Zoom or Web-Ex.
- Attend outdoor art classes where each student has his/her own table and supplies. If the weather is too cold, attend a virtual art class in your own home, creating along with an online instructor.
- Learn about nature and other topics by watching educational programming provided on various broadcast stations, internal closed-circuit television systems and online
- Call or video chat with friends.
If you aren’t a “joiner,” fear not-there are many opportunities for you to become more social in your golden years. What is perfect for one person might be too much for another. Start by adding one or two activities to your routine and see how you feel. Participating in activities you enjoy should be fun, not stressful!
Country Meadows has nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus location in Frederick, Maryland. Often referred to as one of the best retirement communities in the area, we offer a wide range of services to serve a variety of resident needs. The services within our retirement communities include restorative care, rehabilitation, personal care and assisted living, memory support and independent living. If you or a loved one are beginning the retirement planning journey and would like more information about our retirement communities, please contact us today. Our co-workers can provide details on the services we offer, help you to schedule a tour of our retirement communities and answer any other questions you might have.