#SP Recently, while reading up on the social aspects of aging, I came across an interesting finding from the Population Reference Bureau: the majority of Americans express a desire to “age in place” where they currently live. But for many of us Silver Disobedients, living completely independently will no longer be feasible after we hit a certain age. Indeed, as I learned from a 2018 AARP survey, “just 59% [of Americans] anticipate they will be able to stay in their community, either in their current home (46%) or a different home still within their community (13%).” 

Senior living communities are an increasingly attractive option for many of us—but for those currently enjoying our lives at home, the prospect of moving somewhere new brings all kinds of uncertainties. Will we be isolated? Will we make friends? Will we be lonely in our new surroundings? These concerns are anything but idle. Studies have shown a definite link between staying social and staying healthy, especially among the elderly. 

For example, one study I read, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that retirement community residents were more likely to rate themselves as “aging successfully” if—among other factors—they had more close friends, participated in more activities and visited more often with family. In fact, being social was more of a factor in their self-rating of successful aging than “chronologic age, gender, ethnicity, current marital status, level of education, or income.” And so it likely is with you and me. 

The link between social life and health is a theme I’ve repeatedly stressed here—and in turn, many of you have made it clear to me just how important your social ties to your friends and communities are, and how, as you have gotten older, you increasingly prize these close and long-lasting relationships over such transient pleasures as money and possessions. 

The sentiments you’ve expressed to me reveal a lot about the types of senior living communities that are mostly likely to be successful: those in which we are best able to sustain our “social capital”, i.e., retaining our existing social links and forging new ones. In an article I found that was published by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, I read that “senior communities can be designed to maximize sharing, friendship, health and happiness in our later years.”

I find it very inspiring that many senior living communities have made it possible for the oldest demographic to maximize our social capital. These communities include Brookdale Senior Living, which operates 800 senior living facilities in 45 states, comprising a wide spectrum of services: assisted living, independent living, memory care, skilled nursing, hospice and continuing care retirement communities.

One facet of the Brookdale communities that impressed me is how they have been designed with the social needs of their residents in mind—not just their physical needs. In fact, I found that this philosophy informs the entire Brookdale approach from start to finish. The communities’ experienced staff are skilled at connecting with prospective residents and their families, learning about their particular needs, and relying on a personal approach to ensure those needs are satisfied. Once a new resident has settled in, a vast array of social activities is made available to them, ranging from fitness centers to arts & crafts studios to game rooms and much more. Anyone who stays at a Brookdale community is in frequent contact with trained specialists who make it their duty to see that they are adjusting well. The result is a community that is able to sustain residents’ health both in body and in mind. 

The best way to get a feel for the positive social atmosphere that awaits residents at a Brookdale community is to browse their website. If the social bonds that we’ve forged—and continue to forge—over our lifetimes are what is keeping us young at heart, it quickly becomes clear that communities like Brookdale’s are some of the best places for us seniors to live our best lives. 

#WithCare #Brookdale #friendship #laughter #couple #love #life #livingwell #healthy #lifestyle #community #family #SP

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