The Importance of Community in Both Mental and Physical Health

As people age, their circle of friends tends to get smaller. And unfortunately this is the exact opposite of what is best for people who want to remain physically and mentally strong throughout their golden years. Connections, community, and friendships all build bonds that help keep seniors on their feet, living well, and exploring all that life has to offer. The magic of having a place to belong is that each facet of someone’s health is tied together with that support system and community. When a person feels like they belong, they will experience both physical and mental health benefits, stave off decline, and be happier and healthier overall.

Learn more below about how having a community helps seniors maintain mental and physical health!

Helps to Stay Connected

One drawback of aging that many people experience is loneliness, which can cause feelings of isolation and depression. But when an aging family member participates in activities as part of a group, they will stay connected to others and ideally stave off the depression and loneliness that often comes with aging. Being surrounded by people who love and enjoy them can help your loved one maintain a positive attitude and outlook on life.

Reduces Stress

Seniors walking together

With social engagement and community comes a more profound sense of self worth, which can reduce a person’s feelings of isolation and stress. A sense of belonging is a key to these feelings of self worth, and this belonging can actually improve both your mental and physical health. If your loved one has less stress in their life, they will likely have better cardiovascular health and a better immune system.

Mental stress takes a toll on one’s physical well-being, so keeping your loved one’s life in assisted living as stress-free as possible is key.

Provides Fun Opportunities

With a community to belong to, your loved one will also have a myriad of experiences to look forward to, from book clubs and exercise classes to special events and outings. This sense of excitement will build upon itself, and will keep them coming back for more. If they have somewhere to go, they will also tend to take better care of themselves, take more pride in their appearance, and be happier overall.

One thing that many people learned during the pandemic is that not leaving the house for long periods of time can certainly impact one’s sense of hygiene, appearance, vitamin D intake, mental state, and much more. So be sure to get your loved one out to see the sun!

Slows Cognitive Decline

When older adults participate in social activities and conversation, this helps dramatically reduce their cognitive decline, as well as their risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Being mentally stimulated and intellectually engaged by conversations, games, movies, and other group activities can keep your loved one emotionally invested in their social life.

Aids the Body in Healing Mentally and Physically

Senior women taking a selfie

Surprisingly, in addition to benefiting mental health, belonging to a community also increases one’s physical health. Research shows that when seniors have things to look forward to and social interactions to experience, their blood pressure is lower, their sleep and stress levels are better, and they generally have a slower health decline than other seniors. One’s physical and mental wellness are inextricably entwined, and when you feel more peaceful and less stressed, you sleep better, live better, and maintain better health overall.

Keeps You on the Move

As the old saying goes, use it or lose it. When seniors have an active social life, they maintain better motor function because they are up and about. Additionally, exercise helps to stave off mental decline, so any time they are walking and moving, they are making strides for better overall mental and physical health. When they can get their heart pumping, they get more oxygen to their brain, so being on the go improves these bodily functions.

A feeling of belonging and community is at the heart of physical and mental health as people age. At The Inn at Belden Village, we’re a positive, compassionate community for all who come to live with us. With a wide variety of activities and chances to belong to something larger than themselves, they will remain sharp and active as they stay on the move, create new friendships, and look forward to new activities.