Three seniors smiling
May 17, 2024

Retirement Home Activities Reduce Loneliness in Seniors

The Senior Care Experts at Ecumenical Retirement Community

“Loneliness shortens lifespans in a way similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” according to US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a 2017 article for the Harvard Business Review. Older adults are especially at risk of social isolation and loneliness from factors such as retirement, death of a loved one, separation from family and declining health, mobility and mental health. Retirement home activities are designed to help residents foster connections and decrease feelings of loneliness.

Loneliness and social isolation

While social isolation and loneliness are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions. A person can be isolated socially, meaning they do not have many contacts or relationships, but not feel lonely and a person can feel loneliness even if they have many social connections. However, the two concepts share similar risk factors and similar remedies, especially for residents of senior living communities.

Factors that can increase the risk of social isolation and loneliness include race, income, being 80 or older, a woman, an immigrant, or a member of minority group, and those living with health issues including chronic illnesses and disabilities. Communication barriers and sensory and cognitive impairment can also increase the risk. For example, hearing loss may cause communication issues causing seniors to withdraw rather than face stigma and frustration. The results can be detrimental to their health.

Social isolation and loneliness affect more than emotional and mental health. They also affect physical health and can hasten decline in an aging body. According to Dr. Steve Cole, director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, “Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases. The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaque in arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammation in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness promotes several different types of wear and tear on the body.”

According to a recent New York Times article, research from Dr. Nancy Donovan, director of the division of geriatric psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “has shown that people who score higher on a measure of loneliness have higher levels of the proteins amyloid and tau – two of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease – in their brains even before they show signs of cognitive decline.” Lonely people are also less likely to be physically active and more likely to smoke cigarettes, which can also affect brain health, according to the article.

Benefits of retirement home activities

Retirement home activities, like Ecumenical Retirement Community’s signature Dynamic Living program, offer opportunities, and encouragement, for residents to connect with their neighbors and staff. Vibrant resident life encompasses a full array of fitness, social events, recreational activities, lifelong learning and spiritual enrichment. The benefits of retirement home activities include:

Physical activities

Group fitness programs and active recreation can increase mobility in seniors and provide opportunities to connect with neighbors. A study by Geriatric Nursing found that seniors with moderate to high physical activity levels had a 15-30% lower likelihood of experiencing social isolation and loneliness. Body Benefits programs at Ecumenical Retirement Community include fitness classes, bocce ball competitions and walking clubs.

Social events and activities

Evidence has shown that there are cognitive benefits to connecting with others. One study found a 70% reduction in cognitive decline in individuals who were frequently social active compared to their less socially active peers. Retirement home activities often include social events, such as book clubs, game nights and craft workshops. At Ecumenical Retirement Community, happy hours and cultural excursions are also popular.

Intellectual pursuits

Having strong social connections and engaging in mentally stimulating activities can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Retirement home activities such as cooking classes and informative presentations give residents the opportunity to learn something new with their friends and neighbors.

A sense of purpose

Retirement and children becoming independent adults often leave seniors with a diminished sense of purpose. These life changes also decrease the amount of daily social interaction that seniors once enjoyed. To help residents regain the feeling of usefulness and meaning, Ecumenical helps to arrange volunteer opportunities to involve residents in on-campus life and to enable them to share a lifetime of knowledge with others.

Why choose Ecumenical Retirement Community?

Here, you’re family. And together, we’re a community. Our not-for-profit, retirement community offers comfortable, affordable living with a purpose. Learn more about life at Ecumenical Retirement Community and the quiet Harrisburg, Pa. neighborhood we call home. Check out our Pricing and Floor Plan page for sample floor plans and rates. Or better yet, schedule a tour to see for yourself why US News & World Report rated Ecumenical Retirement Community Best Independent Living for 2024.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Contact Us