Successful Aging:
The Importance Of Community As You Age

Social interaction and human-to-human contact are good for you at every stage in life, especially throughout aging. We refer to it as community. “Of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive,” writes Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, “it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important.” Here, we’ll showcase the importance of community, supported by results from Year 3 of the Mather Institute’s 5-year Age Well Study, conducted at Dallas Retirement Village. 

Groundbreaking Research
The Age Well Study began in 2018 and, after three years, continues to reveal that residents in Life Plan Communities have greater emotional, social, physical, intellectual, and vocational wellness than their counterparts in the community-at-large. Findings in Year 2 (2019) further emphasized the positive effects community living has on an openness to new experiences and increased extroversion among residents.

In Year 3 (2020)—conducted before the pandemic dictated life-changing mandates for all of us—the study focused on happiness and life satisfaction among Life Plan Community residents and how community living impacts positive attitudes and overall health.

Twenty-six independent living residents of Dallas Retirement Village are participating in the 5-Year Study with a nationwide participation of 4,191 Life Plan Community residents. Dallas Retirement Village residents scored highest in happiness and life satisfaction and ranked in the top 10% of all Life Plan Communities. These outcomes point to better physical and mental health as well as more positive social interactions, according to experts conducting the Age Well Study.

3 Key Benefits Of Community
The Age Well Study made the importance of community real for residents and staff at Dallas Retirement Village. Here, we take the idea of community a step further—giving you a little more to think about. Meaningful human relationships just make sense—for anyone at any age. They allow us to interact socially and can decrease risks of heart attacks and a decline in cognition, depression, and anxiety, the experts say. Dallas Retirement Village strives to promote meaningful relationships and well-being for all residents. We promote three key benefits of community through meaningful relationships: Give & Take, Learning & Laughter, and Control & Confidence.

1. Give & Take
Having someone to talk to, have lunch with, or laugh together over a funny story does wonders for your sense of belonging. On the Dallas Retirement Village Facebook page, you can read more about the community’s positive social networks and how residents truly bond together over like interests and activities.

As children and grandchildren get older, their attention shifts in other directions. It becomes increasingly important to expand your social network. Findings show that social support from others can increase your feelings of independence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression and loneliness that may creep up. And, as you draw positive experiences from others, you’ll also find opportunities to provide others support as well. This feeds your well-being, too, as you feel useful.

2. Learning & Laughter
Do you ever stop and think about how much you can learn from your friends? Just like you, they have a story to tell. Take advantage of it. Chances are they’ve logged a few miles filled with exciting experiences, interesting acquaintances, fascinating travels, unusual hobbies, remarkable accomplishments, noteworthy previous occupations, and life goals yet to be achieved. 

Become a good listener, as well as a good friend, sharing with each other and setting new challenges to meet and learn from in the days ahead. Listening to someone else’s point of view allows you to look at life from different perspectives, some of which you may not have thought of before. 

Even though older adults may have smaller social circles, their relationships tend to be of higher quality. Evidence suggests that, generally, the more varied your social network, the happier and healthier you are. 

3. Control & Confidence
Meaningful social relationships later in life strengthen feelings of control and confidence. Loss of control in decision-making can create a good deal of stress. But it’s worth remembering that friendships are the relationships you choose and may allow for greater feelings of autonomy—leading to broader social networks, especially within a senior living community. 

So, as you cultivate and expand your social network, you’ll also be cultivating healthier levels of self-esteem, leading to greater independence and feelings of happiness and well-being.

The professional staff at Dallas Retirement Village is trained to promote community and meaningful social relationships among all residents. They encourage storytelling, sharing experiences, and lots of laughter, of course. They expect residents to take an active role in planning and scheduling the activities and events THEY want to participate in. They also understand life’s natural transitions and are absolutely the best resources for handling them in a healthy, compassionate way.

We look forward to hosting you for a visit to Dallas Retirement Village, where you can experience for yourself our tremendous appreciation of community in Life Plan living. Call us at (503) 623-9211 or submit an online form.

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