Studies show a strong link between the overall health of older adults and the level of social interaction in their lives. The need for a social life and healthy relationships with family and friends does not diminish as we age, and is particularly important for seniors. The positive effects of social well-being can be felt across all age groups, but the direct correlation of being mentally, physically and emotionally fit and consistent social interactions should not be overlooked in the aging population.
Health Benefits of Socialization
Staying connected and engaged with others will help to avoid the physical and emotional difficulties that isolated seniors may face. There are specific ways that socialization can improve the health of your aging loved one, such as:
- Reduced risk of loneliness and depression
- Lower levels of anxiety
- Longer lifespan
- Greater self-confidence and self-esteem
- Physical fitness
John Nicolette, Director of Allied Health Services, says “as a Physical Therapist, health is one of my favorite subjects and our rehab staff will always be here to assist you to make it one of your lifetime goals. Staying “disability-free” is so much easier with the support and care of others. As my good friend Rev. Tom Hafer, a Volunteers of America minister and also a Physical Therapist, would say, “the key to maintaining a lifetime of fitness and health is finding a sense of inner-peace and community first, then exercise and eat right. When we have inner peace, the present and the future brighten as we step lighter from this peaceful present moment into the next.” I truly believe this. I also believe how friends and neighbors in the community help and encourage us to maintain good habits of exercise, healthy eating, and fostering meaningful friendships.”
Cognitive Effects of Socialization
Many scientists now believe positive social relationships and consistent interactions is important for the cognitive health of seniors and help to keep the mind sharp and engaged. The overall health of the mind and intellect will help prevent cognitive decline, which includes memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
How Life at The Preserve Promotes a Healthy Social Life
Hosting a full calendar of enriching activities each month is a top priority. The activities at The Preserve, which we refer to as Life Enrichment program, are designed to fulfill our residents’ physical, mental, and social needs. We offer diverse interactions and opportunities which in turn provides the interaction, support and engagement needed for their overall positive well-being.
Director of Life Enrichment, Rachel Hafer, likes to kick off each week with “Meditation Monday”. This creates a sensory stimulation involving essential oils, aromatherapy, hand massages, and more. From there she builds a variety of engaging activities and gatherings that support the iN2L, or It’s Never Too Late, lifestyle and more. Even our staff members outside of Life Enrichment are trained to host activities! We take full advantage of southwest Florida weather and our secured memory support courtyard.
The encouragement of technology-based tools has allowed more opportunities for residents to get connected to the outside world. Implementation of the iN2L technology at The Preserve will allow residents to utilize technological resources with the help of staff. Residents may email family, Skype, play cognitive stimulating games, search the web, listen to music organized by decades and genres, and more. Each resident will have a profile containing his or her interests and social histories as a reference for staff to provide personalized care. Utilizing technology for its unlimited capabilities will be ingrained in the foundation of our Life Enrichment program.
Another example of life enrichment is the Village Craftsmen. What began as a beautiful symbol of the kind and supportive relationship with our sister community, Gulf Coast Village, has turned into the handmade wood pieces created by the craftsmen in the resident-run wood shop in the heart of the GCV legacy campus. The quality, creativity, and generosity experienced in this little shop is nothing short of incredible! Rachel Hafer and the village craftsmen have been designing and creating pieces that can be found throughout The Preserve campus. All the projects are handmade with care and include a special branding on the back of each piece, “handmade by the Village Craftsmen”.
Here at The Preserve, we understand the importance of the overall health and wellness of our residents and believe in the practice of living a full life each day. Whether it is meeting new friends in the lobby for coffee; joining your neighbor for a group exercise class; stopping by the Woodland community room for educational programs, religious services, games and events; or sharing a meal in the dining room, there are opportunities all around to increase your mood and quality of life.