By Rick Banas of BMA assisted living management
One of the biggest advantages of living in a senior living or assisted living community is all of the opportunities that are available for companionship and social interaction.
I was reminded of this again earlier this week as I heard a colleague talk about a conversation she had with a resident of one of the affordable assisted living communities that BMA manages.
His wife passed away and his children all live a good distance away. Before moving into the community, he told her, he’d lived alone and went 22 days without contact with the outside world.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness are dangerous, Psychology Professor John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, noted earlier this month in a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). His presentation was on the benefits that rewarding social connections have on successful aging.
While people in the United States may cherish rugged individualism and personal achievement, he said, these characteristics may not be highly compatible with living longer and healthier lives. Humans are fundamentally social. We tend to underrate the value of “sharing good times” with family and friends.
Research, he says, shows that feelings of loneliness and isolation significantly impact your well-being. They lead to poor physical, mental and emotional health. You are, for instance, at a much greater risk for dementia and depression.
Much more importantly, you are at a much greater risk of an earlier death.
The key, he says, is not simply being in the presence of others, but in companionship and meaningful relationships. It also is about mutual assistance, not just receiving support from someone else, but mutually supporting one another.
Residents of the senior living and assisted living communities that we manage benefit from so many opportunities for companionship and social interaction.
They are not isolated, especially on days when the weather is nasty. They do not have to worry about driving or walking through snow, ice, sleet or freezing rain to visit a friend or neighbor. All they have to do is open the door to their private apartment and walk down the hall.
They can eat meals with others, enjoying conversation and companionship rather than eating alone.
They can participate with others in social and recreational activities.
I hear so often from families of residents before Mom or Dad moves in that we should not expect their parent to be coming out of their apartment a lot. Their parent is not very social. Several weeks later, the son or daughter is calling the community to make sure Mom or Dad is okay. Mom or Dad is not answering the phone. It is because they have been out enjoying social interaction and the companionship of others.
All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“BMA Management, Ltd. is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.