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How Senior Living Communities Have Evolved to Better Serve Older Adults

If you associate senior living communities with little to offer than rocking chairs, bingo and bland food, you’re in for a surprise. Senior living communities now provide an invitation to celebrate more freedom, new experiences and inspired wellness.

The driving forces behind these changes in senior living communities

Seniors are leading more active lives than ever before. They’re traveling, mastering new hobbies, volunteering, running marathons, mentoring young people, writing their memoirs and finding even more ways to get the most from every day.

According to the Population Reference Bureau’s Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States, today’s seniors are:

  • Experiencing greater longevity. The average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 78.6 years in 2017.
  • Becoming more educated. In 1965, only 5% of people ages 65 and older had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. By 2018, 29% had done so.
  • Working longer. By 2018, 24% of men and about 16% of women ages 65 and older were in the labor force. These levels are projected to rise further by 2026, to 26% for men and 18% for women.

Seniors are also finding more meaning in everyday life. According to the Harvard School of Public Health’s Purpose in Life May Help Healthy Aging, having a meaningful purpose in life plays an important role in maintaining physical function in seniors. It also encourages healthier activities.

How senior living communities are responding

With age, health concerns like vision or mobility problems can increase making it difficult to spend time with friends, go on outings or make plans without consulting the schedule of a willing chauffeur. The world may start feeling smaller because of fewer friends, less socializing, driving shorter distances, giving up night driving and living in one or two rooms of the home.

Though that doesn’t mean life stops when the gray hairs appear. Senior living communities realize there’s a desire for living retirement life to the fullest including tapping into resources that promote fitness and opportunities to socialize and make new friends as well as discovering new ideas for healthy aging and wellness that can extend life.

In short, the world can become bigger, not smaller, without having to give up privacy or independence.

Ways senior living communities are reimagining aging

Keeping the body active
Spending the day in a comfortable residence is certainly an option but it may be hard to resist all that’s happening in the community! Classes, workshops, outings, parties, lectures, concerts, movies, happy hours, gardening, card games, outdoor barbecues and holiday events … the list is as long and wide as the imagination. Leave any worries of isolation or loneliness behind and say hello to socializing opportunities that are as fun as they are healthy. Learn more about the health benefits of staying social in Healthline’s Why It’s Important to Stay Social As You Age—And 5 Ways to Do It.

Stimulating the brain
Today’s senior living communities offer an array of life-long learning classes – everything from world events to philosophical discussions to historical events to baking a soufflé. These classes are great for engaging with others, exploring new or current hobbies and having fun as well as creating new neurons in the brain, which helps keep it healthy as discussed in The LIFE Institute’s How Lifelong Learning Improves Brain Health

Promoting healthy aging
Living longer and healthier is a big goal, and today’s senior living communities are designed for just that. With access to dynamic programs that incorporate all dimensions of wellness, it’s easy to enhance the mind, body and spirit. Nurturing relationships, building a positive attitude, fueling the body with nutrition, staying active and making a positive impact on the world—it’s all available at today’s senior living communities.

Today’s senior living communities are very different from yesterday’s nursing homes. They focus on activating the body, engaging the mind and lifting the spirit – all components of  active aging – to live a fulfilling lifestyle. Learn more about senior living communities in our Senior Living Options Guide.