Helping Older Adults Combat Loneliness

Breakfast, lunch and dinner with friends. Fitness and wellness classes. Day trips. Learning new hobbies and skills. Happy hours. Movie nights.

At Prestige Senior Living, that’s a day in the life for many of our residents. It’s not enough to just meet basic needs, we strive to create days filled with memorable events in a social setting.

That social element to life at Prestige is as important as any physical care we provide for our residents. Through our Celebrations wellness program, we create moments that bring joy and camaraderie to our communities.

The programming is planned and carried out by the communities’ Life Enrichment Directors, like Angelique Ewing and Scott Spiva, who use the elements of Celebrations to create activity calendars that combine old favorites with innovative new ideas to help create bonds among the residents.

Loneliness All Too Common Among Older Adults

One of the biggest reasons people seek senior living is for the social options. As we age, the prospect of loneliness can become all too real. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.”

There are any number of factors as to why that happens:

  • The loss of a spouse/partner
  • Loss of friends/loved ones
  • Decreased mobility, making it harder to go out
  • Health issues
  • Fear of falling
  • Giving up a driver’s license

While many older adults still live full, rich lives while living independently, many struggle with loneliness and isolation, and the effects can be much more significant than simple boredom.

The Impact of Loneliness and Social Isolation

Encompassing the cognitive, mental and physical health of older adults, loneliness and social isolation can impact every aspect of health and well-being.

Consider some of the data included in the CDC’s report on the topic:

  • Social isolation is associated with a 50% increased risk in dementia.
  • Social isolation can increase the risk of heart disease by 29% and strokes by 32%
  • Among those with heart failure, loneliness is associated with a nearly four times increased risk of death, along with much higher rates of hospitalization and ER visits
  • While it’s difficult to come up with exact figures, loneliness has been shown to cause higher rates of depression, anxiety and even suicide among older adults.

Those figures are staggering and are a vital reason why Prestige’s commitment to creating a vibrant, active social environment is a core tenet of life at our communities.

Tailoring the Activities to the Communities

At Prestige, those group activities can come in a variety of forms to suit all sorts of different personalities; whether it’s walking groups, dominoes clubs, or even Wii bowling tournaments, we strive to create event calendars with a wide variety of options so we can reach all our residents.

Of course, each community is populated with a widely diverse group of residents with different backgrounds, experiences, interests, passions and abilities.

Those with a green thumb might love the gardening options, whereas there might be residents who struggle to keep a fern alive and would have no interest.

And naturally, there are personalities to keep in mind too. Some people are natural extroverts who are comfortable in a wide variety of situations and adapt fairly easily, while others are more introverted and need time to warm up to group activities, and require down time to recharge.

It’s why our team members get to know every single resident and their life story. It helps them find activities that will reach our residents where they are in a way that makes them comfortable and willing to try. And it fosters an open dialogue for people to offer ideas of activities they might enjoy and help our team bring each resident an experience that brings them joy.

The Benefits of Social Activities

By taking the time to get to know residents and creating activity calendar and events to help them thrive in our communities, it can have tangible impacts:

  • Keeps The Body Active

While fitness classes play a big role in keeping older adults healthy, staying busy is a great complement to that work. From gardening to walking clubs to just moving around a community from one activity to another helps keep muscles and bones strong, which helps prevent falling. It’s also good for cardiovascular health, fending off illnesses and improving sleep.

  • Keeps The Mind Active

All those benefits for the body? They extend to the brain too. Staying active can help maintain and even strengthen cognitive health. It can be particularly helpful when trying new activities, which challenge the brain. It’s why at our community our events have such great variety – not only is there something for everyone, but also stimulates brain health.

  • Good For Mental Health

Many older adults who live alone at home suffer from loneliness and isolation, which can be incredibly detrimental to mental health. By being in a community and joining with others in activities, it builds friendships. Furthermore, after retiring, many older adults struggle to find meaning – keeping busy by engaging in old hobbies and discovering new ones can bring joy and purpose.

Life at Prestige

For a taste of what life is like here, throughout May and June communities are holding special open houses with unique activities to showcase all the fun we have here – check out some of the highlights from May’s events!

The best way to see how we do it is to visit a community. There you’ll be able to meet the Life Enrichment Director and other team members who bring activities to life every day. They can explain the philosophies behind the events, how they plan the month and what’s ahead.

If you’re interested in getting started, contact the community nearest you to schedule a tour. In addition, each Prestige community has a link to the monthly activity calendar on their website – scroll down to the community highlights, click the box for Events Calendar and you’ll find the link there!