Peach Tree Times
Some of our articles have been written by guest writers
Peach Tree Times
Moving into a senior community can feel a bit like the first day at a new school. You're new and might not know anyone there yet, while others in the community have pre-established friendships. It's normal to be nervous.
Retirement communities often have a variety of scheduled activities and events. Find a few that interest you and prioritize going to them. Whether it's painting, exercise, bird watching, or a coffee social, you're sure to find someone who shares your interests.
In many communities, mealtimes are the time of day where you see the majority of the residents. Use mealtimes as a time to get to know your fellow residents. Invite people you meet during the day to sit down and share a meal with you.
Get to Know the Staff
Having staff members that you know and trust has multiple benefits. You'll likely be seeing them on a regular basis, and if you have any concerns then you know who you can ask.
Additionally, getting to know the staff can give you more opportunities for friendships with other residents. If a staff member finds out you have a certain hobby, they might introduce you to another resident whom you may not have known that has similar interests.
Keep a Good Attitude
Attitude is everything. If you go into a new situation with a positive outlook you'll be shocked how easy it can be to meet people.
Smile at the people you pass in the hall, or chat by the coffee machine. Take a risk and initiate conversations instead of waiting for others to make the first step. Ask questions, and don't be afraid to talk about yourself. Current residents are as curious about you as you are about them.
Everyone knows that physical activity goes a long way towards cultivating a healthy lifestyle. But, did you know that social activity may be just as important?
Socially isolated older adults have been found to have a higher risk of sickness and disability, as well as higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of early death.
Being socially engaged may actually help to avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science in 2018, “Social isolation […] is considered the major source of mental and psychosocial stress,” which is a prominent factor in the high prevalence of neurological diseases.
Being involved in social activities can not only make your life more interesting and engaging, but it can also help to keep many of the negative effects of aging away.
A few ways to stay socially engaged include joining a club or church group; volunteering; visiting friends and family; and playing games like chess, checkers, bridge, and poker.
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Nearly 15% of adults in the United States provide unpaid care to another adult. Recently, a study from the Pew Research Center and analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) evaluated the duties of caregivers and found that many caregivers felt their experiences were very meaningful.
Learn more about caregivers in the U.S. and how they find meaning in caring for their parents and senior loved ones.
A Day in the Life of a CaregiverThe BLS tracks how Americans spend their time in a given day. Recently, a study evaluated how caregivers spend their time, providing hands-on assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), financial planning, providing medical care and transportation.
The report found that adults caregivers in the U.S. spend nearly 80 minutes each day providing unpaid assistance, with 1 out of 5 caregivers spending less than 20 minutes per day caregiving and 11% spending more than three hours a day providing some type of care.
The study found that on average, the 15% of adult caregivers in the U.S. comprise their days of the following activities:
In fact, caregivers rated 47% of their caregiving experiences as “very meaningful.” Caregivers also reported being “very happy” during 32% of caregiving activities, but admitted to being “very tired” during 8% and “very stressed” during 5% of these activities.
The report also found that older caregivers found caregiving more meaningful than younger generations. Caregivers over the age of 75 said that 82% of their caregiving duties were meaningful while caregivers between the ages of 45-59 found 53% meaningful. However, older caregivers also found their caregiving responsibilities more burdensome, saying they felt “very tired” during 15% of their caregiving duties.
*Referenced from A place for mom
There are many reasons older adults move into senior living communities — but is finding love one of them?
Burdett Stilwell, Director of Sales and Marketing at Somerby of Mobile, has been working with seniors for many years and has had the pleasure of developing friendships with the residents who call Somerby Senior Living home. She’s up-to-date on who is dating whom and according to Stilwell, when it comes to relationships, the seniors she knows fall into two categories: those who are interested and those who have “been there, done that.”
How Senior Living Communities Bring Couples Together
While there’s a lot of data about couples who met in college or high school, not a lot has been done to apply the same framework to couples in senior living communities. “Over 90% of the older adults we help move into senior living are moving in alone,” says Ben Hanowell, Lead Senior Living Researcher and Data Scientist at A Place for Mom. “Once they move in, our organization unfortunately can’t track whether they are lucky in love!”
Though research is lacking, Stilwell says that senior living communities can bring couples together and that marriage is not unusual among residents.
“One couple grew up in the same county, but never knew each other. When they met here they had lots in common, so they got married and have been living with us for the past five years.”
She adds that three other couples were also married over the past three years at Somerby.
Tom Giuliana, Operations and Business Development at Meridian Senior Living, echoes Stilwell’s sentiment, sharing a story about a couple who recently met at a Florida senior living community.
“Alex P. and Alice B. are a couple who met at the community about a year ago. He plays guitar for her every day, and they are always laughing and spending their time together.”
Alex P. and Alice B. — A couple who met at Meridian Senior Living.
This trend is also becoming more common at senior living communities across the country, according to U.S. News.
Searching for Another Chance at Love
“Senior living communities are one place where dating has blossomed,” writes A Place for Mom’s Jeff Anderson. “Men and women who had once resigned themselves to isolation have been able to rebuild intimacy with a new companion, in a new place, and in new ways.”
For some widows and widowers, senior living communities offer a chance to experience love again, and the new lease on life that those feelings bring. Stilwell shared a story of one gentleman at Somerby who was a caring and kind caregiver dedicated to his wife.
Several months after she passed away, he had found a girlfriend, and staff saw him doing things they hadn’t seen him do before — having carefree fun and going out on excursions.
Single Ladies in Senior Living
Some older adults are interested in dating and marriage, but a long-term relationship is not always a priority in senior living. These serial daters are having fun, but there’s no doubt that it’s the older men who have the dating advantage in most senior living communities, simply because there are fewer of them. “Among older adults who move into senior living alone, there are over two-and-a-half times as many women as men,” says A Place for Mom Data Scientist Ben Hanowell, “and the gap is wider for older age groups.” For older adults age 65 to 70, there are 57% more women who move in alone than men. Compare that to ages 90 to 99, where over three times as many single women than men move into senior living.
Though some older adults are finding love, the majority of residents at Somerby are still single. That’s why they’re hosting a “no partner needed” Valentine’s Day dance this year. With a night of dancing planned, the single men will get lots of attention, Stilwell says.
She admits that she often sees many older women enjoying the single life, and has had new residents ask “Where are the men?” upon moving in. Stilwell also adds that when new single men move into the community, “everyone comes by to see who it is.”
What are these single ladies in senior living looking for? Certainly companionship and fun, but interestingly enough, qualities that are highly sought after when dating don’t change in our senior years.
One resident asked Stilwell to find her a man who “has a car, is a safe driver, and if he’s cute too, that’s a bonus.”
All humor aside, the point is that our desire for companionship doesn’t diminish as we age. Many residents are dating and finding love in senior living — so much so, that sexual education classes are frequently offered at communities, often at the request of residents.
“It all still goes on in senior living communities,” Stilwell says.
Written By: Kimberley Fowler
Website credit to: A Place for Mom