Elderly Socilization in Assisted Living
The Golden Age may not be the golden stage to brag when loneliness, depression, and cognitive decline overshadow. As one grows older, the social circle reduces due to the scaling mortality rate. The individuals you are close to are no longer at your disposal, and the family you raised is starting their dynasties. You become a risk factor to many, but thanks to assisted living facilities and various senior living communities, your social life entertains a new spin.
As you enjoy time at a local assisted living facility, you meet individuals with different life paths that all led to a shared residence and current stage. Some may share similar tales of life as yourself, while others may enlighten you with their diverse perspectives. You create new bonds with one another and become the knights of the living young. Life is no longer about aging, but the wage of each beautiful memory shared.
You may initially refuse assisted living due to a common misconception that is going around like bad flu…the perception of the connection between an assisted living facility and a mental institution. False news may portray residents of senior living facilities as elderly people who lie around all day and await time to take their scheduled medications. It is a gloomy way of describing a place where the senior citizens of society return to after their invaluable input in shaping and molding the young community. The current elderly care facilities have added a touch of class in the way they handle the wellbeing of the senior citizens and provide a touch of bliss with companion care services.
Such activities may transform the place into more of an elderly care resort of some sort, and are inclusive of the following:
1. Food and Dining Events
The loved ones at the assisted living facilities get to enjoy the fantasy of a parade of delicacies. The kitchen staff are usually not disappointing types and will ensure your loved ones keep their taste buds young at an old age.
2. Prayer Services
The old age is often a spiritual age that needs spiritual care. If your loved ones need to continue the spiritual journey, then they need not worry. Socialization during retirement on a spiritual path is the best way to maintain a young soul. Today, most assisted living facilities will ensure each senior citizen is on a preferred spiritual path. It is possible by facilitating the provision of private worship rooms upon request.
3. Holiday Celebrations
The priceless possession of most senior citizens is in their memory vaults. It is the path that they carried with them to this old age that created such memories. The assisted living facilities nowadays organize events through which the elderly get to socialize and relive holidays and celebrations.
4. Movie Nights
The thrill does not stop there for the seniors as they also get to keep their minds young through memorable films and television shows. It is the best way to remove the illusion that leaves them feeling trapped in assisted living facilities. Laughter indeed is the best medicine for the elderly, and what can be better than laughing together with their peers?
5. Book Clubs
For the scholars that find themselves under elderly care, their pursuit does not have to stop there. Such senior living facilities always maintain a library collection of books that will continue to fascinate their young minds to their satisfaction. Senior citizens then get to discuss various books with other older adults in the communities, which is a wonderful way to socialize and stay mentally engaged.
6. Dance Clubs
For the young minds that still like to tango their souls back to their youthful era, they will never miss a beat at the assisted living facility. Music does indeed fuel the soul, and what better way to prove it than to witness how the old turn young on a dance floor. Socializing through dance and music is a great way to not only engage the body, but also the soul.
7. Swimming and Water Aerobics
Such therapeutic activities exist for the sole purposes of improving the health and fitness of the elderly. The swimming and water aerobics activities help improve their mobility and general fitness. The loved ones will reduce their stress levels and the impromptu occurrence of ailments related to stroke. And the best part is, they get to swim together with other seniors at the community.
Additional reasons why assisted living communities are a great way for seniors to socialize:
Assisted living communities are not just some versioned elderly care holiday getaways. The senior citizens of society are under 24/7 surveillance in terms of monitoring their nutrition and wellness. They are the golden eggs of the assisted living facility, and their care and wellbeing is the main priority. Thus, some compelling reasons that consider their health and quality of life include:
1. Supervised Nutrition
Since the elderly are fragile individuals, meeting their nutritional needs can be a challenge if they depend on their busy family members. Elderly individuals living alone will also find it challenging to keep up with an acceptable diet plan and might not meet the required body nutrients count. If an elderly adult does not receive proper nutrition, they will not have the right amount of energy to socialize with their peers. Under the care of an assisted living facility, it is impossible not to meet up the nutrients demands due to the structured diets.
Social bonding is healthy and beneficial for the seniors of society. Moreover, some aspect of autonomy through privacy is also a need. The assisted living facilities objectify the need for independence by scheduling time of the day when the members get to spend time alone to relax and have some self-reflection. While socialization is encouraged, senior privacy is also respected. It is such a balance that keeps the senior citizens with a sane piece of mind.
3. Housekeeping and Transportation
Doing house chores and trying to find their way around are some of the most strenuous activities the elderly should not have to perform. Their fragile nature due to old age should not be under any strain on their daily activities. Such activities include frequently visiting an array of doctors and having to tend to their general personal hygiene. An assisted living facility is capable of facilitating the seniors' transportation to any necessary arrangements and supervising their health to ensure they are comfortable. Being able to move freely to places other than the senior living community encourages the seniors to socialize, whether it is through scheduled off-site picnics, during a bus ride or during any other scheduled activity.
4. A Safe Living Environment
If there is one aspect that scares a lot of family members, then it is the safety of the elderly loved ones. There is the risk of leaving them alone at home, which not only prevents them from socializing with other senior citizens, but also comes with the worry about how safe they will be moving around. Moreover, if the house is not safe-proof, then the elderly loved one can end up mishandling the wrong household equipment or kitchen supply and wreak havoc. The elderly care under assisted living facilities is guaranteed through daily planned inspections to ensure that their safety is not compromised.
Elderly Socialization and Quality of Life
A senior loved one considered for an assisted living facility needs a comfortable social setting as a means of distraction from the illusion of being rejected by his or her loved ones. The platform acts as a guardian angel to many senior citizens. The prosperity of the senior living facilities is directly dependent on the social bonds the admitted seniors create. Thus, socialization has to exist within the communities, whether they are smaller adult family homes or larger senior retirement communities. The following bullet points are a measure of socialization within an assisted living facility:
- Do the elderly receive the needed timely assistance when they are stuck on an activity?
The assisted living facilities have to present a measure of satisfaction to the senior loved ones. Does the assisted living facility possess the necessary caregiver qualifications to ensure each resident receives individualized care and support if they face challenges or are stuck on an activity? Such a level of promptness to their requests and care will also generalize the social bonds to be inclusive of the caretakers as well.
- Do the elderly receive a scheduled calendar update of upcoming events?
The assisted living facility’s level of socialization is evident through the eagerness of experts in scheduling more social events. An excellent assisted living facility will have a social calendar plan narrating the yearly social events and activities that promote socialization.
- Are the dining rooms and lounge areas conducive for socialization?
The state of the lounge rooms and dining rooms also tell a lot about the social status of an assisted living facility. The setting should contact a blissful atmosphere that accommodates a group of seniors. The environment and atmosphere should be like a resort, not a mundane atmosphere, hospital, mental asylum or incarceration center where no one would be interested to reside. The grouping of seniors under such settings will promote natural social bonds.
- How easy is it to organize a conversation between two seniors?
The freedom in the environment of the assisted living facility should be so friendly that every elder in a room can freely talk to a fellow senior and caregiver, and promote socialization. The seniors should not have to look at one another and their caregivers as strangers, especially when they have shared the same facility for an amicable period.
- Is there a recreational director to facilitate the socialization activities?
The most important indicator of socialization in an assisted living facility is the existence of a recreational director or resident activity coordinator. The presence of such an individual will depict the seriousness and commitment of the facility towards the social health of the admitted loved ones.
- To what level is socialization promoted or encouraged?
The senior living facilities should not try to promote socialization to please the public eye but do it for the sake and wellbeing of the senior citizens. The seniors interested in music, sports, cooking, books, and other exciting activities should be granted the opportunity to enjoy the pastimes, hobbies, and activities they enjoy. When the residents spend time together embracing shared interests, then there would be decreased elder isolation and loneliness.
- Does the presentation of the rooms consider the use of art and color?
The presentation of the assisted living facilities, the residential suites, and the surrounding environment should convey a sense of love at first sight. The architecture, colors, interior design and decoration, and artistry in play should breathe a fresh sense of life. It is such an environment that will make the elderly feel like they have found a second home and be more interested in moving to assisted living, rather than simply refusing assisted living.
Encouraging the Elderly Loved Ones to Socialize
A modernized, upscale assisted living facility might be a dream destination for some elderly loved ones who perceive their new homes as all-inclusive resorts. However, transitioning from an environment of familiar faces to an environment populated by strangers can be a great hurdle and emotionally challenging for some seniors. No one wants to embrace even the slightest feeling of rejection. The idea of going to spend the remaining part of your life inside a facility designed for the elderly is not an easy pill to swallow. Such a transition takes time before one can fully adapt. Thus, it is crucial to make life easier on the elderly involved and guide them slowly to acceptance.
The elderly, under the senior care of the assisted living facility, may be reluctant to adjust to the stable schedules and social conditions of the facility. To ease the transition of the loved one into the senior care facility, try and consider the involvement of family participation. Let it not be the sole burden of the staff members under the assisted living facility to try to make your loved ones comfortable as they transition into their new residential environment. If you have time, getting involved in some family activities can significantly change the morale of the elderly loved one about the assisted living facility.
For instance, some senior care activities to consider may include:
Weekly scheduled game night with the elderly loved one
If you have a deck of cards or board games at home, you should carry them along during your occasional visits. There is no better way to initiate some thrill of fun than through family time. Such activities make the elderly feel appreciated regardless of their seclusion under the senior care facilities.
Accompany your loved ones to religious functions
Spirituality defines the nature of the elderly adults, and going with their loved ones to worship gives them great joy. Such an initiation strengthens their spiritual connection, and they will feel their prayers answered each time you go with them to pray.
Have meals together
The oldest tradition of bringing families together to socialize is through meals, and no meal is more unique than the one shared with family members. Be quick and witty enough to rant about the latest gossips in the neighborhood, as it gives the elderly a sense of acknowledgment of your life events. Talk about your life goals and what you are up to, including your love life. Such an intimate level of engagement with the elderly promotes a sense of belonging and appreciation.
Why Elderly Socialization Matters?
As stated earlier, the main focus of socialization during retirement is to channel the mental, physical, and emotional fitness of the elderly senior citizens. Due to the physical limitations that elderly people endure, getting them into groups that can foster social bonds will lead to beneficial physical and emotional outcomes. The health benefits of elderly socialization may include:
- Reduced Stress
Senior citizens actively involved in social activities handle stress better. The joy of bonding with one's peers has tremendous health benefits, including lowering stress levels. Socialization during retirement improves an individual's immune system in addition to cardiovascular health.
- Lengthened Lifespan
The sense of fulfillment experienced after a social scenery has no price tag. It creates the need to know an individual more and more and thus grows the yearning each time. Such levels of social craving give birth to longevity. An individual embraces a certain level of fulfillment just by sharing his or her life experiences.
- Increased Physical Fitness
Physical fitness is stronger when it is group-oriented. Seniors under retirement are usually under the shadow of fatigue from both work and old age. Getting into a group with a mutual objective of regaining the faded fitness is one way of motivating each other to stable health. The bonds forged towards such health benefits usually spring into an unplanned band of brotherhood and sisterhood.
- Reduced Depression Risks
Most of the elderly loved ones will at first feel rejected and unwanted upon their admission into assisted living facilities. Such a feeling will create levels of loneliness and isolation that might affect their mental and physical health. To cope with such depressive episodes, creating strong social bonds at the retirement communities will neutralize the negative feelings.
- Reduced Anxiety
In his or her initial days, a senior who is new to an assisted living facility may have experienced a high chance of suffering from an anxiety attack. The individual may have been easily convinced that he or she has entered the final resting phase of life, after which death will come sailing. A preoccupied mind will not have the time to entertain such thoughts and will be busy celebrating the joy of new social bonds. Thus, socialization during retirement will keep the mind from negative stray thoughts.
- Increased Self-Esteem
What better way to boost one's sense of self-worth than through sharing their life interests and experiences? Telling the archived memories of your life achievements to individuals who can easily relate and add to them is the ultimate self-esteem boost. The senior citizens rarely talk about the dreams they have, other those that have already been achieved. Their conversations will be more about how it felt and complimenting each other during the conversation.
- Improved Personal Care and Assistance
As we age, our mobility decreases and our independence could decline. It would become increasingly difficult for the elderly to find assistance if they extricate and withdraw away from socialization. Your community, whether it is family members, friends or your companion caregiver, could help you with your personal care, such as assistance with mobility, routine errands, and doctor's visits.
- Developed Technological Skills
Seniors usually face tech-hurdles and may become frustrated and disappointed easily. Help with using technology is another benefit that socialization can offer to the elderly. Some easy technology skills learned from their social circle can help them learn frequently, as friendly guidance and tutorials about new technology gadgets can make a big difference.
Enhanced Neighborhood Safety Perceptions
Studies have indicated that seniors have expressing that the following factors are most concerns when considering neighborhood safety perceptions:
- Whether the neighborhood has safe places where one can enjoy a walk.
- Their neighbors and people in the neighborhood.
As important as neighborhood safety is for younger generations, elderly people also perceive neighborhood safety to be an important factor for human social health and mental stability. Seniors express less fears when they are around other people they trust; they tend to feel uncomfortable when they are alone for too long.
Senior citizens should be spending some time socializing. It is easier to go out and exercise, take a walk or attend an event if you have someone you can interact with, at least a companion to engage in a small courtesy discussion.
The Cognitive Benefits of Socializing During Retirement
A happy mind is a healthy mind, and so a cognitive mindset is pivotal. If the social interactions between the senior citizens continue to be positive, then the seniors will continue to be intellectually engaged, mentally sharp, and stimulated. Moreover, improving the cognitive areas of the elderly loved ones will help fight off forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease and memory loss, and prevent the eventual need for dementia and Alzheimer’s care facilities.
Obstacles Facing Socialization During Retirement
Some barriers that prevent some senior citizens from completely embracing socialization need to be considered with a thorough and professional approach. Moreover, some of the elderly people may be carrying around wounds that are not easy to heal. The organized active intervention from fellow seniors may sometimes be the best approach during such a scenario. Some reasons for such wounds may include:
- The unavailability of close family members and friends
- Perceived or real cognitive decline
- The loss of a spouse or loved one
- Physical ailments
Thus, socialization is the antidote for the needs of most retired senior citizens. They should not struggle to find their place in the busy life of their loved ones. The senior living facilities are already in place and are ready with a helping hand. Moreover, the same facilities should not be an excuse to lose touch with the elderly loved ones.
Hopefully, the considerations we have provided will help you refine your elderly loved one’s socialization and overall well-being. Let’s continue to remember that senior socialization during retirement provides endless benefits, particularly when provided by assisted living facilities or retirement communities. Moreover, socialization is both essential and attainable for every senior citizen as they enjoy their golden years.
The easy way to maintain a healthy social life depends on each specific situation as each case is different, but we do understand the importance of family members and involvement in social activities with other Baby Boomer peers. Sadly, because of busy routines, geographical distance, and limited resources, it can be problematic at times for relatives to offer the required social support to their elderly loved ones. When it happens, seeking professional help from an assisted living facility is recommended.
This is the point where we can assist the golden assets of our society. All the activities at an assisted living facility or a retirement community are planned to help satisfy seniors’ physical, psychological, and social needs. Varied occasions for constructive social interactions overflow at all of our preferred senior living communities. These communities aim to provide senior citizens the support, company, and engagement they deserve and seek for their mental and physical well-being.
Senior Living Help is here for you whenever you need our help in finding senior living facilities such as assisted living, memory care, retirement communities, nursing homes, senior living, and 55+ communities. There are over 50,000 communities in the United States, and chances are that you will find a perfect community for your loved one to socialize in.
About the Author:
"Senior Socialization in Assisted Living Communities" is authored by Anisha Rao, MPP, Healthcare Consultant, Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Healthcare Professional. Anisha holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Health Administration and Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Minor in Management of Aging Services. Anisha has extensive experience in Healthcare Services and Aging issues, including dementia care, senior health, and nursing home care. Anisha is passionate about ensuring seniors receive the best care possible and empowering seniors to become more involved in their care planning decisions.