Learn & Grow/Health & Wellness/Strength (and Fun) in Numbers
Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Resources for Seniors

Strength (and Fun) in Numbers

Not everyone is an extrovert. For some, solitude means peace, comfort, calm. It can become a problem, though, when alone time escalates into isolation or loneliness. For older adults, solitude and loneliness can, unfortunately, be quite common: spouses or friends may have passed away, others may have friends or family who have moved elsewhere, or those closest to them may be ill or homebound. A lack of friendships is often, not a choice, but caused by their living situations.

However, studies have shown that companionship and being social greatly impact our physical and mental well-being. Socializing can be as good for you as getting eight hours of sleep, exercising, eating well, and not smoking-and probably a lot more fun! For our bodies and brains to age well, we need social connections.

Mental/Emotional Impact

According to Northwestern University researchers , people who maintain friendships during their later years have a stronger memory and exhibit slower cognitive decline than those who live quieter, less social lives. Friendships also help to:

  • Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Provide emotional support
  • Encourage personal development, confidence, and self-worth
  • Offer a sense of belonging
  • Increase happiness
  • Develop coping mechanisms
  • Enhance longevity

Physical Impact

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , loneliness and social isolation are linked to serious health conditions. Companionship can help minimize these issues:

  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Weakened immune system
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and cognitive decline

Finding and Making Friends

Social interactions are important, but how do you go about meeting people and making new friends? Living in a senior living community can make it easier and provide lots of opportunities to make friends. After all, there are plenty of people around; many who may be in the same boat as you. Here are some tips to encourage connections:

  • Make the first move. To make a friend, you have to be a friend. Try striking up a conversation at a group get-together or even at mealtime. Ask questions like: How long have you been here? Where did you move from? Tell me about your family. What types of things do you like to do here? And, be equally open to sharing things about yourself; people will more likely feel comfortable opening up to you.
  • Learn something new. Learning together or exchanging knowledge and skills are some of the best ways to bond with others. Take classes on sewing, quilting, photography, pottery, or foreign languages, for example. Or, try sports like golf, tennis or pickleball that encourage cooperation and teamwork.
  • Join a support group. If you are struggling with an illness or disease, are experiencing grief, or are going through a major life change, support groups give you opportunities to meet others who might be going through similar things as you.
  • Get out of your room. Frequent common areas like the Club Room, where others might be sitting alone. You never know who else might want to chat or share stories. Or, others might invite you to participate in a game or conversation.
  • Build on these new connections. Remember that you might need to attend events or group meetings repeatedly to form friendships. Then, stay in touch and check in often-in person, via text or even phone calls. Sharing life experiences and day-to-day issues helps to deepen personal bonds.

At GreenFields Geneva, there are many opportunities to make great friends within our doors. In fact, abundant social opportunities are an important reason people choose to live in our vibrant community. This story about two ladies who have become BFFs is among our favorites!

  • Pursue your personal interests. Increase your social interactions by joining one of our many clubs, pursuing a long-time interest or engaging in a new hobby. Chances are you will find like-minded people who enjoy the same things. GreenFields boasts: resident-run clubs, fitness classes, movie nights, organized outings and shopping trips, meals at the Savanna Restaurant and Blackberry Bistro, and special events, such as the Silver Games competition.
  • Ready, set, go! Although it might seem a bit daunting initially, the sooner one starts participating in planned activities, the sooner one feels a part of the community. That’s why GreenFields residents run our Outreach Program, which promotes the importance of reaching out to neighbors new to the community.

Live your best life by making friends and enjoying more of every single day. It will be good for you and your new friends, too!

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