By Lloyd Hartley
Between 1946 and 1964 a staggering 76 million babies were born in the United States. They are the “Baby Boomers,” and every day 10,000 of them turn 65!
As a result, we now see the emergence of an entire industry dedicated to helping us navigate the aging process. Home health companies, referral agencies, board and care establishments, and assisted living communities are just a few of the entities that are now in place. Today’s seniors are living longer and enjoying a higher degree of mobility. The fastest growing demographic today is people 85 years and older. Those seniors choosing assisted living communities are demanding a very different lifestyle than seniors 30 to 40 years ago. Assisted living communities now emphasize educational lectures, field trips, performing arts, and a wide array of exercise programs in addition to gourmet healthy dining options. Today’s assisted living communities are now much like elaborate cruise ships that never leave port.
There are three main benefits assisted living communities provide for aging seniors: socialization, healthy dining and exercise. Seniors typically experience a shrinking circle of friends, with loneliness and depression an increasing problem among them. Assisted living communities offer a thoughtful calendar of events and opportunities for residents to socialize and engage in a meaningful manner. These relationships not only offer a multitude of health benefits, but expanding their circle of friends also helps with processing the loss of a loved one and other challenges inherent to the aging process.
Dining experiences are important not only for the socialization aspect, but for healthy nutrition. Seniors living alone frequently rely on processed and pre-packaged easily prepared foods out of convenience, rather than cooking fresh food. Assisted living communities generally offer a wide menu selection of freshly prepared meals providing a multitude of benefits.
In addition to eating better and improved socialization, seniors who live in assisted living communities are more physically active. Most communities are structured to encourage movement, thus avoiding the natural tendency toward a sedentary lifestyle. From landscaped walking paths to a variety of exercise classes, fitness opportunities abound with encouraging results!
When considering a senior community, it’s imperative to visit in order to accurately judge if there is a good fit. Take the time to observe how the community functions and pay close attention to the other residents. Are they engaged? Is there a healthy “buzz” of activity throughout the community? Try a meal for taste and evaluate the social atmosphere. Are conversation and laughter abundant, or is it quiet and somber? These criteria will help determine the overall health of a community. Finally, understand the transition into a communal living environment takes some adjusting, so commit to staying at least 4-6 months while getting settled into a healthier and happier lifestyle.
For more information contact:
Lloyd Hartley, Community Sales Director
Meadowbrook Senior Living, 5217 Chesebro Rd. Agoura Hills, CA