6 ways women can bolster health and quality of life through retirement living

Excerpt: Although Canadian women live longer than Canadian men, older women are more likely to develop chronic illnesses and disability. Moving to a retirement community can help women, including those whose spouses are in poor health or have passed away, reduce chronic illness risks through stimulating social and physical activities. They can also improve their health and quality of life with easy access to artistic pursuits and nutritious meals with friends.

International Women’s Day* is celebrated on March 8, and it’s a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

Canadian women tend to live longer than Canadian men, but women aged 65 and over are more likely to be newly diagnosed with chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, dementia, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis,* according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Although both women’s and men’s life expectancy have been increasing over the past several decades, women are spending more of their additional years with a disability than men,* reported a University of Southern California study.

Given the higher proportion of chronic illness and disability among older women, it’s important for women to be proactive in taking positive steps to prevent illness and improve their health and quality of life.

Moving to a retirement community can provide rich, diverse opportunities for older women whose spouses are in poor health, or have passed away, to enjoy nutritious, tasty meals with friends and participate in stimulating social, physical, and recreational activities that are good for their physical and mental health.

Here are some ways women can benefit from the enriching experiences, activities, and amenities in a retirement community:

  1. Be physically active to reduce chronic disease risks. Older adults who exercise regularly improve their physical, psychological, and cognitive health, while also reducing the risks and reversing some of the effects of chronic illnesses,* reported a Biogerontology study.

  2. Engage with peers for social stimulation and support. Widows who received social support and were socially active showed greater physical and mental resilience,* a Qualitative Health Research study found. Widows who were continually engaged in everyday activities and social relationships had a lower risk of premature death,* says Psychology Today.

  3. Dance for fun and fitness. Dancing lowered the risk of disability for older women by 73%, improving balance, strength, endurance, memory, and concentration,* reported the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

  4. Nourish your mind with healthy food. Good nutrition through regular, well-balanced meals – with plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean protein – can alleviate depression in undernourished older adults,* reported a University of Toronto study, and help prevent cognitive decline,* according to a 2021 Nutrients study.

  5. Lighten up to maintain abilities. Laughing with friends lowered the risk of functional disability in older adults by more than 30%,* according to a Preventive Medicine study. Enjoying fun activities with peers like board games, film comedies, or live entertainment can bring a smile to your face and be good for your health.

  6. Enhance health and well-being through the arts. Participating in arts and creative activities, such as painting, drawing, singing, drama, and crafts, allows opportunities for self-expression and can help older adults build cognitive reserve and reduce psychological distress,* according to Ireland’s Institute of Public Health.

At Chartwell Retirement Residences, our LiveNow program offers older women and men many fitness and dance activities, art classes, group excursions, discussion groups, and themed social events that promote physical, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational, and spiritual wellness.