By: Kecia Lilly
One of the main reasons elders move into senior housing communities is for “community.” Socializing among peers wards off feelings of isolation and depression. In addition, it engages a part of the brain that isn’t used in solitude and therefore promotes healthy brain activity. As if that were not enough, studies continue to demonstrate how happiness improves mental and physical well-being. More and more, it looks like happiness is largely under your control and, like anything, it’s a habit that needs to be formed.
The brain and body are incredible tools, but if you’re going to use a tool, you need to know how it works. If you’re not overly active in your day-to-day life, you probably have memories of working out; moreover, you probably remember that, when you were working out, it would get easier and easier to do the same task. This is because the body grows and adapts. It’s the same reason people in various SCUBA and/or military training programs can learn to hold their breath for longer time periods; the same reason people can reduce their heart rate in a crisis. Most of it is simply mental training.
There have been countless studies that reflect how the brain adapts to new stimuli. For instance, a NASA training program put goggles on prospective astronauts that made them see everything upside down. After several weeks however, they were amazed to find that their eyes had adapted to it and they saw everything right-side up. So for seniors who feel like they are too old to change or improve their lifestyle, know that your body is always willing to learn (plus, learning improves your memory by growing new memory branches, so it’s a win/win situation).
What follows is a list for seniors and caregivers to follow as it will undoubtedly lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle in your senior living communities.
- Go Outside
Get some sunshine and interact with nature. The sun provides you with Vitamin D which gives you more energy and you simply cannot beat the joy of digging your hands in the soil and making your own garden.
While many senior housing communities allow you to leave the residence, even the ones that do not (like Memory Care Centers & Nursing Homes) often provide outdoor walkways with garden paths as amenities — extremely important to senior health.
- Charities, Organizations, & Support
It doesn’t matter what age you are, joining an organization will help give you value and meaning day-to-day.
Assisted living facilities are just one example of senior housing communities that allow residents to leave the campus. What’s more? They’ll even provide transportation, so it can be very useful for seniors who want to commit to something permanently.
Like the charities or organizations to join, spirituality is a great way for seniors to advocate a healthy lifestyle. For many, religion is a way to have value and add purpose to their life.
Again, assisted living communities are one of the senior living options that provide transport. Specifically, the residences we affiliate with will provide transport to your church, parish, synagogue, temple, or whatever religious group you adhere to.
It has been proven that animals do have a positive impact on people’s mental well-being. It’s why they are often provided for people who have suffered from a natural disaster or even to students undergoing finals at school.
An under-reported fact is that many senior housing communities, like nursing homes, allow seniors to bring their pets with them. This is especially pertinent for seniors that need to move, but are worried about leaving their loved one behind. Not to worry, we can find a community that allows pets.
- Appreciate Yourself
Many times, seniors lose sight of themselves and yearn for a different time, but the fact is, transitioning to senior housing communities simply starts a new chapter, and is not the end of their life. As a result, we encourage seniors to truly value who they are and how far they’ve come. Since much of our happiness is controlled by ourselves, seniors should think about the things they appreciate about themselves instead of thinking about what they don’t like.
In the end, your happiness is in your control. So regardless of the senior housing communities, if you’re struggling with the stress of moving, you can make it work. Think positively, the best is yet to come.F