They say two heads are better than one. And the old adage of a village raising a child isn’t just made up. Building community is key to longevity, positivity and happiness, and overall health.
People need other people and that need couldn’t be more apparent than during the aging process. Aging is much like growing up. It’s uncharted territory fraught with new experiences and changes in the body. Unfortunately, experiencing aging alone is more common that we realized.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported 11 million or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone in 2010. As spouses and family members age and die, the likelihood of living alone increases. Although living alone and spending time alone isn’t a problem in and of itself, it can lead to isolation, which can lead to depression.
Additional strains of loneliness include physical health decline, vulnerability to elder abuse, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, and pessimism about the future. Some experts point to these statistics as reasons for community care with other elders or co-housing.
So how do caregivers or individuals in the midst of aging create or find community? They build relationships and attachments to recurring activities and engagements.
We recommend starting small and branching out. Look around your neighborhood and see if there are opportunities for friendships with neighbors. Or beyond the fence-- go to your local senior center and try a new class.
Building habits around time spent with other people is crucial. The importance of that time can’t be stressed enough. Click here to watch one of our favorite examples of the beauty of community.
How have you seen community benefit the aging process?