7 ways retirement communities promote healthy aging

Excerpt: Many factors contribute to healthy aging, including staying physically, mentally, and socially active, and nutritious eating. Retirement communities support healthy aging by offering residents opportunities to connect socially with peers, engage in mentally stimulating activities, and do physical activities that build or maintain endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. Participation in the arts and volunteering also enhances and enriches the health and well-being of residents in their daily lives.

Many factors influence healthy aging. Some of these, such as genes, people can’t control. Science, however, has clearly identified many other factors within your reach—such as staying physically, mentally, and socially active, and nutritious eating—that can make a huge positive contribution to healthy aging,* according to the National Institute on Aging.

Moving to and living in a retirement community gives older adults easy access to a diverse range of enriching activities tailored to their interests, abilities, and personal care needs, and nutritious meals in a welcoming and social environment.

Here are some of the ways retirement living can enhance your health and well-being:

  1. Connect socially with like-minded peers. Older adults who form new social ties and contacts report improved physical and psychological health,* according to a Social Science & Medicine study. Other studies have linked social isolation and loneliness to high blood pressure, heart disease, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline.*
  2. Keep your mind fit with a variety of intellectual activities on offer. A Mayo Clinic study, published in Neurology, reported that staying mentally active through activities, such as playing bridge, chess, scrabble games, reading books, discussion groups and guest lectures reduces the risk of dementia.*
  3. Cross-train by participating in physical activity classes or utilizing amenities like pools and work-out equipment. Research shows older adults benefit most from doing four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.* Choosing from a diverse menu of recreational activities such as dance, walking clubs, yoga, tai chi, stretch and relaxation, and gentle exercise classes makes age-appropriate cross-training easy
  4. Enjoy tasty, nutritious meal options to improve mood. A healthy, balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, and avoiding inflammation-producing processed foods protect against depression,* according to Harvard University. A healthy diet can also reduce the risks of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and help keep your brain healthy.*
  5. Take part in the arts. Participating in artistic activities such as singing, music, crafts, painting, drawing, creative writing, and photography has positive effects on the health of older adults, including memory, level of creativity, problem-solving skills, and reaction time,* McMaster University reports.
  6. Make a difference by helping others. Residents can take advantage of opportunities to volunteer in their local communities or in the world at large, and gain a strong sense of meaning and purpose.*
  7. Benefit from personal care and support services as needed. A retirement community can provide the level of personal care and support that a resident may want or need. Family caregivers can be assured of quality care and support for their loved one, while have the time and space to take care of their own health and wellness.

At Chartwell Retirement Residences, our LiveNow life enrichment program offers wide-ranging, high-quality recreational experiences that promote physical, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational, and spiritual wellness. Participating in these programs and experiences empowers each resident to pursue their individual passions and embrace opportunities to connect with people who share similar interests and outlooks.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:

  1. National Institute on Aging. “What do we know about healthy aging?” (2022), online: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-healthy-aging
  2. Social Science & Medicine. “The health benefits of network growth: new evidence from a national survey of older adults.” (2015), online: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24128674/#:~:text=This%20process%20of%20network%20growth%20can%20improve%20access,boost%20self-esteem%2C%20reduce%20loneliness%2C%20and%20increase%20physical%20activity.
  3. National Institute on Aging. “Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks.” (2019), online: https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks
  4. Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic minute: Brain activities decrease risk of dementia.” (2019), online: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-brain-activities-decrease-risk-of-dementia/#:~:text=Staying%20mentally%20active%2C%20even%20later%20in%20life%2C%20may,medical%20journal%20of%20the%20American%20Academy%20of%20Neurology.
  5. National Institute on Aging. “Four types of exercise can improve your health and physical ability.” (2021), online: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/four-types-exercise-can-improve-your-health-and-physical-ability
  6. Harvard Medical School. “Gut feelings: How food affects your mood.” (2019), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/gut-feelings-how-food-affects-your-mood-2018120715548
  7. National Institute on Aging. “Cognitive health and older adults.” (2020), online: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults
  8. McMaster University. “Get back to your artistic passions to boost your health and well-being.” (2018), online: https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/blog/detail/blog/2018/09/26/get-back-to-your-artistic-passions-to-boost-your-health-and-well-being
  9. McMaster University “Volunteers: Artisans of health and well-being.” (2022), online: https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/blog/detail/blog/2022/03/23/volunteers-artisans-of-health-and-well-being