The world population is living longer. The life expectancy in different countries has increased steadily over the years, especially in developed countries. For instance, life expectancy in the USA and UK is roughly 79 and 80 respectively. The same figure for Canada is 82, according to World Bank data .
What does this mean for seniors and senior communities? Improvements in healthcare and breakthroughs in medical research have contributed to this increased life expectancy. But living longer doesn’t automatically translate to living better. Growing old is often accompanied by a decrease in physical health and cognitive functions. It becomes harder to lead a satisfying and happy life.
How can you ensure residents are aging well? According to research in the Journal of Aging Studies, there are 6 key factors the determine the quality of life for older adults. These factors are having a sense of purpose, social interaction with other people, pursuing personal growth (new experiences), self-acceptance, autonomy, and health.
Focusing on the above 6 factors is crucial for senior residences. Senior residences have changed from simply providing healthcare to communities that provide an active and engaging lifestyle to older adults. Here’s what you can do if you aim to satisfy your residence and keep them happy:
Activities and experiences
Different people find purpose and personal growth in different things. That’s why it is important to offer a wide variety of experiences for your residents. Some people are more interested in physical activities and others are not. Some of your seniors may be more social and extroverted than others. A few will be hampered by physical and mental limitations.
Offering a variety of activities ensures that everyone has something suitable for them. You can rotate through different experiences depending on what residents like, the weather outside, the availability of space and expertise, etc.
For example, gardening can be a fulfilling hobby for seniors during the summer. You can also organize hiking or walking trips to nearby parks. Winter is a perfect time for indoor activities such as visiting a local museum.
Use the latest technology
There are excellent reasons why senior communities are incorporating more technology. Health-focused devices such as activity monitors, emergency pendants, and smart home phones equipped with life-safety technologies are a great way to ensure immediate access to medical care for residents. These technologies can help you provide better healthcare when your seniors need it.
These new devices and services can also help seniors live an independent life for longer. This helps in promoting a sense of autonomy. Older adults can live in apartments on the campus and yet have instant access to health professionals. For example, sensors can tell residents if they have left the door open or forget to turn off the stove. Notifications can also remind them to take their medications and give a nudge if they forget to eat regularly.
You can also use technology in other ways. For example, many seniors are comfortable with tablets and smartphones. By offering Wi-Fi in common areas, you can encourage residents to keep in touch with their families and friends. They can play games with their grandchildren even if they cannot visit in person. You can also offer video games that help residents stay active, both physically and mentally.
Encourage creative hobbies
Social isolation is a big problem for seniors. It can have a debilitating effect on physical and mental health. When your residents first arrive in the community, they may feel alone as they have left all their friends and family behind. They have lost relationships with neighbors, colleagues, and relatives. This can cause some seniors to retreat into a shell, especially if they also have physical and mental health constraints.
Trips and workshops are excellent opportunities to draw residents into common areas. They are more likely to meet people with similar interests and explore new friendships. Another way is to organize regular clubs around creative hobbies. A monthly book club or pottery making class is an opportunity to socialize and interact with fellow seniors.
Creative hobbies also contribute to personal growth and overall well-being. Older adults can feel like they’re learning a new skill and see their progress over time. They can go back to childhood hobbies they had to give up due to lack of time or other responsibilities.
One of the biggest advantages of senior living communities is that the people there have instant access to like-minded individuals. Promote a sense of community by organizing group activities and celebrating holidays together. It fosters a sense of camaraderie and offers an opportunity for interaction. Gone are the days when seniors moved to residences as a last resort. Today’s older adults are actively choosing to live in such communities for a lifestyle geared towards their needs.