Friendship and activities add to happiness and health

Community Living

Living in a community versus living alone - How friendship and activities keep us happy and healthy

One in three Americans is now 50 or older — by 2030, one in five will be 65+. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people age 85 and older — will increase from about 14% of the 65+ population today, to 21% in 2050. 

Growing older in a community

Numerous studies have been done recently to keep up with the pace of the Baby Boomers becoming a larger segment of the aging population. Among them, studies to understand the impact our social lives play in mental and physical well-being. Yale Medical Group reports that seniors who are social may have a reduced risk for cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer's disease and depression. They also have lower blood pressure and are more physically active.

In addition to benefiting those who are aging, studies show significant increase in happiness and peace of mind for family caregivers who benefit from knowing their loved ones are being taken care of in a community that was made for them.

Being a family caregiver is an enormous responsibility, whether you are caring for a parent, spouse or other relative. When that person has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or a physical impairment, the caregiver may feel even less able to set aside his or her care-giving duties to attend to social relationships they previously enjoyed. This can trigger loneliness and depression.

We understand the importance of community and friendship - we see it everyday

“We know we’re different, but we complement each other,” says Kathy of her friend Dottie, her neighbor at The Springs at Clackamas Woods retirement community. “Maybe God was looking out for us.”

“Or the devil!” Dottie adds and both women start laughing. Next-door neighbors since spring of 2017, they bonded one day at their mailboxes. Morning conversation continued into lunch, and the rest is history. Dottie and Kathy represent one of many new friendships that have been forged in our halls, as well as partners and friends who decide to move in together.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older adults who live alone are more prone to social isolation and are less likely to receive help with their functional limitations. Additionally, studies show that women who live alone and are over 85 tend to have increased risk for poor health and worse functional status than men.

“People see us coming and say, oh here comes trouble!” Kathy says with a laugh. “But they always want to sit with us!” 

When they’re not watching some of their favorite TV programs or reminiscing over a shared history of music and dancing, they can be found near their friend, Ruby, playing piano. Some evenings you can find them playing cards with a group of women, often times until 9:00pm.

“We have fun every day,” says Kathy.

“We haven’t gotten into one argument yet,” Dottie adds.

“Maybe today,” Kathy says as they both start to giggle again like schoolgirls.

Life takes on more satisfaction when spent with a good friend

In addition to having a “partner in crime,” the women also report more of a general satisfaction with life on a day-to-day basis, as well as feeling at ease knowing their families don’t need to check up on them or feel as if they are alone and isolated. In fact, Kathy and Dottie say they are so busy they rarely have a day off! Between activities planned at The Springs Living, outside activities and general social opportunities over meals, the friends say their schedules are packed, and they like it that way.

“The Springs Living feels like a big family,” says Dottie. “We look out for one another and life is good.”