Building Mental Well-being through Socialization and Community.
These days, it’s difficult to talk about the importance of socialization and community as we age without discussing the elephant in the room—the social pause we’re all experiencing due to COVID-19. Distancing and self-isolation, along with mask mandates, hand-washing, and disinfecting are helping to keep everyone well.
However, the pandemic culture does make it challenging to socialize with others, build important relationships, and formulate a sense of community that’s so critical to the mental aspects of healthy aging. Here, we recognize our COVID-19 challenges. But still, we explore the importance of socialization and community as we age and how The Carrington is adapting by structuring a fulfilling sense of community within its walls.
“The people who are here make all the difference in the world for me,” says Hyma, a Carrington resident since 2018. Hear the full conversation with Hyma and watch other videos in our “Resident Chats” series on YouTube.
We’re all social beings.
We are not meant to live in isolation. Therefore, a sense of community is critical for us to thrive, especially as we age. According to research conducted by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risks for a variety of mental conditions. These include cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. (The NIA is a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and leads a scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life.)
The NIA explains that, in the normal course of life, older adults find themselves alone more often than when they were younger. Combating isolation and loneliness later in life by securing a sense of community provides many elements critical to mental health.
Three of the most beneficial aspects of community identified by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) are belonging, support and a sense of purpose:
Feeling like you don’t fit in can be a lonely experience. At The Carrington, it’s easy to feel like you belong. You’re among seniors who enjoy the same things you do and have similar backgrounds and life experiences. You don’t have to conform or change to feel like you’re a welcome member of this vibrant community.
Instead, you’re embraced and appreciated for your true self and the unique qualities you bring to your relationships with neighbors and friends.
Having someone you can call on when you need to talk or want help with something can get you through difficult situations that may feel insurmountable alone. Knowing there are neighbors, friends and trusted staff who support you can help you feel cared for and safe and can benefit your overall mental outlook on life.
The Carrington promotes a culture of engagement and well-being, and its residents are there for each other.
Within your community, people fill different roles based on their talents and life goals they’ve set for themselves. Perhaps you’re the friend who enjoys cooking and can be counted on for a special treat when a neighbor needs a pick-me-up. During COVID days at The Carrington, residents fulfill their need for purpose by engaging with neighbors. These include virtual programs and socially distant in-person activities to promote connection and socialization within the community.
Having purpose and helping others gives meaning to life and strengthens mental well-being later in life.
How do you find community within your living environment?
It takes a little soul-searching and self-analysis when searching for a strong sense of connection no matter where you live. Being aware of what’s most important to you can help you find ways to connect with other like-minded people.
What do you like to do?
Review your interests. Maybe it’s reading and joining a book club would satisfy your need to expand your circle of friends. It’s easier to build relationships while doing activities you enjoy—together.
What do you value?
If it’s being of service to others, charity work and volunteering provide great opportunities to meet people while giving back to others.
What do you believe in?
You can join a group that works toward a goal that’s meaningful to you—a spiritual practice, a religion, or a political cause. Connecting with something bigger than yourself can broaden your sense of community, help build relationships and do wonders for your mental well-being as you age.
Community with All Generations.
Relationship-building should continue throughout life. As you age, you may find that friendships change as you retire or move. People your own age are great sounding boards for dealing with the transition into retirement and the challenges that come with it. But don’t forget about past relationships. It takes dedication and work, but stay in touch with old neighbors and friends from the office.
You should also look to develop new friendships with people of all ages. Relationships with both older and younger people will help keep you in touch with the world as it changes.
The Perfect Place for Building a Strong Sense of Community.
Every element of The Carrington is crafted to promote a culture of engagement, well-being, and community. Resident-centered and resident-requested programs, activities and events encourage a new level of vibrant living. As a resident, you can mold the exact lifestyle you’re looking for—one that nurtures independence and self-reliance yet is supported by a strong community of neighbors and friends.
As we approach the festive celebrations of November and December, consider what the holidays could be like surrounded by friendly warmth and well-being at The Carrington.