Living at home is often the choice of healthy seniors who haven’t thought about other options, but more and more people are considering independent living communities as a new place to call home. People who want to shed the constant responsibilities of home ownership, and instead spend their time with friends and family, pursuing a more active lifestyle and feeling free to travel on a whim are making the move. Before deciding, take a look at the many great benefits of senior independent living communities.
Independence with security
Independent living is for seniors who are relatively healthy and able to manage daily life without any routine help. But that doesn’t mean help isn’t available if they need it. Independent living communities offer onsite security, as well as help in a health emergency. For seniors who live alone, this is particularly important especially if support like friends and family are not close by. Families appreciate the peace of mind too, knowing a loved one is safe even when they can’t be there. Take a look at some safety facts from AgeSafeAmerica.com.
Increased socialization = better health
Living at home alone can be an isolating experience. And isolation is one of the most debilitating experiences for seniors, mentally and physically. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, social isolation can have “significant adverse effects for older adults” including a higher risk for symptoms of depression and high blood pressure. The AARP foundation report, “Loneliness and Social Connections: A National Survey of Adults 45 and Older” notes that one in three U.S. adults age 45 and above are lonely and that the Medicare-related costs of social isolation and loneliness are estimated at $6.7 billion. More tangible is that the report compares the health risks of prolonged isolation to that of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Independent living communities offer an open door to meeting new people, making new friends and beginning a new and more fulfilling lifestyle. Some of the many possibilities include joining a film or book club, group trips to an off-site theater, shopping and sporting events, and enjoying onsite fun like musical performances and dances. The NIA article, “Participating in Activities You Enjoy” takes a look at many of the options.
Easy access to exercise
Exercise is essential to aging well and is linked to a healthier mind and body, including lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s so easy to procrastinate: It’s too cold to go for a walk, equipment is too big and complicated, not enough time in the day, and so on. But in independent living communities, exercise is a part of daily life and can even become a regular social event. In fact, the more regular and prolonged exercise is, the better, says the NIA in the article, “Fragmented physical activity linked to higher risk of death in older adults.” Independent living communities offer a wide variety of exercise options from weight training to yoga and other “mindful” forms of exercise. There may also be running/walking groups, and outdoor games like tennis and badminton. Exercise in all its forms is just plain good for the body, mind and soul, and independent living communities make it impossible to resist.
To cook or not to cook
Independent living communities offer a range of plans that can include meals, but many also offer onsite restaurants or cafes, and chefs who prepare delightful, diverse and healthy choices. Many plans also include meals for those on low-sodium diets and those who are counting calories. When combined with exercise, a good diet can mean a much healthier lifestyle with more time to enjoy the good things in life. The NIA article “Smart Choices for Healthy Aging” offers ways to change eating habits for the better.
When driving becomes a chore or even dangerous, seniors can quickly become isolated. One study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health showed a 51 percent reduction in the size of seniors’ social circles when they stopped driving. Having to depend on friends and family for transportation to appointments and shopping can be hard on everyone, and can compound the sense of isolation. In independent living, however, transportation is no longer a problem. Even those who still drive can take advantage of preplanned trips to community events and destinations. Many independent living communities also take advantage of local public transportation services with stops right onsite.
Independent living offers many benefits that can make life easier and much more fun for seniors. Perhaps the best one of all is being part of a community where each person is valued and respected all day, every day while living life to the fullest!