Staying Social in Assisted Living
Today more than ever before, seniors are experiencing better health and have more options for retirement to choose from. With baby boomers continuing to retire in record numbers, it’s important to understand how retirement communities can address their evolving health and social needs. And although there are still many people who don’t want to be “put in a home,” the stigma of senior living communities is slowly but surely fading away as more enjoyable options become available for many older adults.
Of course, a large portion of someone’s concern with retiring is that they’ll be cut off from things familiar to them — whether that’s their community, family, or just their social group in general. Sure, things will be different once someone retires, but they certainly shouldn’t be worse than before! Considering that an assisted living is right between skilled nursing care and independent living, staying social and maintaining positive habits can be the difference between living your golden years or a lackluster experience.
1. Physical Activities and Fitness
Beyond making good sense for one’s health, taking up some fitness classes available at a assisted living community also represent a great way to meet new friends. Although it can feel intimidating for some, seniors will be led through the activities with trainers who can tailor each session to the specific abilities of the attendees. Group exercises like water aerobics, Zumba, yoga, or elliptical classes can be both fun and make for great physical activities requiring no real skill or training. Seniors can have the freedom to explore new hobbies and activities in assisted living, so picking up an exercise class is always a good bet while trying to connect with others in the community. Additionally, seniors will have much more incentive to maintain good health after finding a workout buddy!
2. The Arts
If someone isn’t the type to enjoy working up a sweat, finding an art or music program could be another great option to stay social in assisted living. Whether you’re a beginner or have enjoyed a life of developing musical or artistic skills, seniors can find many opportunities to socialize and make new friends through many mediums. Relating to others through the arts can be a powerful experience as well. Sometimes it’s better to connect on a deeper aesthetic level, whether that means the sharing of abstractions or the pursuit of some particular idea. Other times, group painting sessions or craft workshops can be both relaxing and engaging, serving as a very pleasant activity year-round. In either case, assisted living is definitely something that can be made quite colorful with a little effort and exploration!
3. Group Trips
While an assisted living community may have just about every basic comfort one could need, it’s still healthy to get out for an adventure every so often. Assisted living communities frequently organize group outings or community trips, providing the opportunity to meet new people and see new places. Popular destinations include trips to museums, gardens, the theatre, or just a walk downtown to go shopping. No matter the itinerary, getting some fresh air and a change of scenery is one of the most beneficial things to maintain wellbeing — regardless of one’s age really! These activities are also great considering that transportation is arranged and seniors won’t have to worry about finding a ride back to their communities.
4. Movie / Game Nights
Maybe someone will just opt to stay in on a raining evening instead, in which case a movie or game night would be ideal! Not everything in retirement has to be a vibrantly exciting experience. Sometimes it’s just better to take it easy and hunker down with a good film. Of course, game nights can be quite the event in many assisted living communities, complete with food, prizes, and lots of opportunities to get to know fellow residents. For those with a competitive spirit, it’s good to remember that the true goal is to win the friendship of others — that is unless there’s a gift basket on the line!
5. Cooking Classes
Finally, another great activity to keep seniors in assisted living both healthy and social is cooking classes. Living in a retirement community may not always present the need to cook for one’s self, however, there are still benefits to learning new recipes and keeping your skills polished. The process of preparing food is often a multi-sensory process, producing lots of great smells, textures, and sounds that can often evoke related memories and states of mind. Although there are certain things to be careful of in the kitchen, food and cooking have always been activities that are able to bring people together to enjoy a common experience. Even if there aren’t classes offered in someone’s particular community, it’s possible that there are local community colleges or other locations where these classes can be found.
No matter what type of senior living community someone moves into, there are always ways to maintain a healthy social life. Whether that means connecting with old friends to make plans, or checking the community schedule to see what events are taking place, staying social in assisted living is one aspect of retirement that can’t be overlooked!