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Socialization the Key to Longevity, Happiness

Not ready yet? For seniors who think that staying in their homes makes more sense than moving into a senior living community such as Brightmore of Wilmington, or a Continuing Care Retirement Community such as Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall, I would like to suggest they reconsider. Unaware of the negative impacts of isolation, many seniors choose to remain in their home and live alone. An unfortunate side effect of this phenomenon is that many lose the motivation to maintain an active social life, which can be critical to a person’s mental and physical well-being.

It may seem obvious to say that we need people around to engage with us socially as well as intellectually to ensure that our brains don’t turn to mush, but I found an interesting article recently on SeniorCare.com that takes the idea a step further. According to some new research in the article, isolation and a lack of socialization is as bad for an individual’s physical well-being as it is to be a habitual smoker or a heavy drinker.

After a moment of reflection it definitely makes sense. Taking into account the widespread belief that a baby left unattended and without human affection will experience a wide range of severe emotional consequences, why is it hard to understand that seniors in an isolated situation would also experience a negative impact on their health?

An important aspect of the wellness program here is focused on building a sense of community, so we offer a variety of programs and events–all aimed at providing our residents with the chance to get together and enjoy each other’s company, as well as expand their intellect with stimulating educational programs. Our goal is to help the residents get the most out of their retirement and embrace life through programs such as the Brightmore 50+ Lifelong Learning Service.

As an example we recently collaborated with Ocean Cure, a locally-based nonprofit dedicated to helping people by utilizing the healing power of the ocean, to host a day of fun, surf and building sandcastles for the residents of Brightmore of Wilmington. During the event, which was named the Sunny Seniors Beach Day and took place in front of the new boardwalk at Carolina Beach, Brightmore resident Betty Rorie went surfing for the first time.

At 84 years young, Rorie does not fit the profile of what many think of when they imagine a beginning surfer. She was quoted as saying that, “They told us a few days ago that we were going out for a day of sun and surfing. I said surfing for us? Good grief! I want to see what that’s all about!”

Rorie, who was later joined by several other ladies in her watery adventure, referenced the fact that Brightmore of Wilmington offers a wealth of activities for residents. She explained:  “We could sit around and do nothing, but who wants to do that?”

A few of the highlights from just the past few months include a talk about the history of the American Legion; a celebration of the Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink, where the residents got together for moon pies and old movies, and a visit from Chef Ryan, who demonstrated how to make fruit mint salads.

By: Cindy Stancil

Cindy Stancil is President of Liberty Senior Living Management Services, LLC.  Leveraging 30 years of experience in senior and assisted living, Stancil manages operations at four senior living campuses under the Liberty Senior Living umbrella. Liberty Senior Living Management Services LLC is a division of Liberty Healthcare Companies, a locally owned and operated company that provides a comprehensive approach to patient care.