Some of your friends have moved into a senior living community and you may find yourself wondering if you should do the same. You don’t need the extra assistance with daily activities, so would you see a benefit from such a move? Absolutely! There are many reasons to consider moving into an independent living community. Let’s look at them now.
No More Chores and Home Maintenance
One of the most difficult parts of a transition to an independent living community is leaving the house you’ve made into a home. The rooms are filled with memories of times shared over the years with people you love and care about. However, the upkeep and maintenance associated with home ownership can be quite burdensome, especially over time.
Many adults have less desire and less energy for the upkeep of a household as they get older. Chores such as cleaning, home maintenance and lawn care become increasingly difficult. In an independent living community, these services are often included in the package price or available for an additional fee, freeing you to spend your time in the pursuit of activities that you truly enjoy. If, however, you have a green thumb and don’t find gardening to be a burdensome task, many communities have gardens for their residents to take pleasure in.
Independent living communities offer security measures you often don’t have in your own home. From security guards to on-campus security monitoring to emergency call buttons in your private residence or on your person, your safety is of utmost importance in an independent living community. Plus, when you do decide to take a vacation, you can enjoy the time away knowing that your home and possessions are safe and sound.
Smooth Transition into Other Levels of Care
Independent living communities have much to offer and are ideal for persons who are self-sufficient; however, as you age, it’s likely you will eventually require some assistance and wellness support. Some retirement communities like Medford Leas, which is a continuing care retirement community, offer additional long-term care options such as assisted living, rehabilitation and skilled nursing care.
As your care needs change, it’s easy to transition from independent living to a different level of care within the community. This can be especially important if you have a health concern that may worsen over time, requiring you to find a community that will provide the care you need. By choosing a community that provides more than one level of care, you won’t have to uproot your life and lose contact with the friends you’ve already made in the community as your care needs change.
Better Food and Dining Options
Many older adults find it difficult to eat a balanced diet, and their health suffers because of it. Meal preparation for one or two people can be difficult. Although you may choose to continue cooking your own meals, by moving into an independent living community, you’ll also have access to chef-prepared meals. This means that the chores of shopping for ingredients, preparing meals and clean-up are taken care of for you. Some independent living communities offer a set meal plan served in one communal dining area while others feature multiple dining options with on-site restaurants and cafes.
Enjoy a Love for Learning
Living in an independent living community gives you time to learn a new language, take an art class, pursue the degree you always dreamed of completing or take a class on any other topic that interests you. The baby boomer generation is often recognized for its efforts at self-improvement and the pursuit of continuing education.
Many independent living communities provide a large selection of on-site classes and/or provide transportation to local community colleges and adult education programs. Adults who want to pursue learning outside of the traditional schooling years should check out Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Programs if they are available in your area, either on-site or at a local college or university.
As you get older, it may become harder to get together with family or friends. Perhaps they’re busy, or they’ve moved. Maybe you’re not as mobile as you once were, or you’re not as comfortable driving as you used to be. All these realities and more can leave you feeling left out and isolated. Moving into an independent living community can help.
Whether through planned activities, clubs, outings and events or by joining others in the common areas of the community, you’ll have endless opportunities for socializing and meeting new friends. Plus, you’re surrounded by people your age, making it easy to find friends who have experienced many of the same things as you and in which you have things in common. Let’s take a closer look as to why this is so important.
Probably the biggest reason someone should consider moving into an independent living community is the social opportunities afforded to them from such a move. As people get older, they often become more isolated and alone.
According to the latest census, 28% of persons who are 65 and older live alone, and as people get older, their likelihood of living alone increases. While living alone doesn’t have to lead to social isolation, it frequently does. For a variety of reasons, social contacts tend to decrease as a person ages – reasons, like those mentioned above, include retirement, family and friends move or pass away, difficulties with driving and lack of mobility. Whatever the cause, isolation and loneliness can have serious consequences on the health of an individual. Even perceived isolation – the “feeling” of being lonely – can have a devastating impact on the lives of older adults.
Let’s look at the impact of loneliness and isolation a little closer.
Sadly, loneliness and isolation can cause health (physical and mental) problems that can lead to death. According to Science Daily, social isolation and loneliness are a bigger threat to public health than obesity – having twice the impact on early death. Feelings of isolation can elevate blood pressure, disrupt sleep, increase cortisol, cause decreased white blood cell count and increase your chances of developing depression.
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that adults aged 52 and beyond have a greater risk of death due to loneliness and social isolation. A Denmark study concluded that social isolation was associated with 60-70% increased mortality. Even perceived social isolation (sometimes caused by blindness and loss of hearing) causes health problems. In a Chicago study, researchers found that a person who feels extreme loneliness has a 14% greater chance of premature death.
Adults who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report poor physical and/or mental health. Feelings of loneliness are linked to poor cognitive performance, can lead to increased cognitive decline and places a person at risk of developing dementia.
Loneliness is a major risk factor for depression among people of all ages. Study-after-study shows an association between feeling lonely and many depressive symptoms, diminishing the well-being of middle-aged and older adults. Some socially isolated and depressed individuals will turn to suicide as a means of escape. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for older adults, with men age 85 and older having the highest rate of any group in the country.
There are many other reasons that isolation, loneliness and depression in older adults cannot be ignored. Some include:
- Older adults who are socially isolated are more likely to be pessimistic
- Loneliness and isolation frequently lead to a need for long-term care
- There is a direct relationship between loneliness and increases in systolic blood pressure
- Socially isolated and lonely people are more likely to engage in poor health choices such as smoking, poor diet and lack of physical activity
As you can see, social isolation and loneliness, even that which is perceived, can have devastating impacts on the lives of adults. Social isolation and loneliness generally happen in stages. It can be so gradual, you may not even realize it’s happening until one day you feel its impact.
Independent Living at Medford Leas
When you’re a resident at Medford Leas, you’ll never find yourself in isolation. Our lively campus is chock full of active living opportunities to enjoy all year long. Follow your passion or discover a new talent with the Medford Leas Resident Association (MLRA). All residents are members of the MLRA and, together, cultivate a healthy and fun community for all. From organizing trips to concerts to sightseeing groups, there is something for everyone to be excited about when it comes to independent living at Medford Leas.
Medford Leas is a vibrant continuing care retirement community spanning two campuses in Medford and Lumberton, New Jersey. Our 168-acre Medford campus, nestled in the heart of The Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve, offers an enticing lifestyle amid the natural beauty of the area. Come enjoy the scenic woodlands, trails, streams and wildflower meadows for yourself, or whenever you desire as a resident of Medford Leas.
Please contact us to learn more about our amenities and all that a life at Medford Leas has to offer. From independent living to assisted living to rehabilitation services to skilled nursing, we are here to help you achieve your best life possible. Don’t forget to download our guide, an interactive workbook packed with helpful insights, to find the right independent living community and to learn more about life at Medford Leas.