The Rise of Aging Communities in the Fight Against Social Isolation
Loneliness is a disease of the modern age. As nuclear families become less common and functional family units fall apart, many senior citizens face a future of social isolation. In recognition of this, a movement is taking place to provide communities for aging adults that offer support and companionship.
A survey by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) found that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated. In addition, the CDC states that social isolation is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia and a significantly elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Village to Village Communities
For American senior adults, there are several solutions. Village to village communities are springing up across the states. These pro-aging communities actively care for their older residents by setting up systems that enable them to have active, independent lives in a social environment. Village communities provide local volunteers that assist with daily tasks as well as vetted community service providers. Villages offer social groups, organized activities, and extra resources for those that need them. There are now over 200 villages in the U.S., with more growing annually.
Senior Roommates is a program that pairs older adults that have extra space at home with those looking for a place to live. It is primarily geared towards providing companionship for those that are lonely and experiencing social isolation. Companions are matched based on similar lifestyles and shared interests. The program can provide a welcome solution for people who want to remain in their homes but miss company and friendship.
A New Home on Your Own
If you are an older adult and you are considering a move closer to family or an aging community, the first step is to sell your home and invest in a suitable property in your new location. Many older adults choose this time in their lives to downsize, a smaller property is easier to manage and the capital released through the sale of your home can fund your move and integration into your new life.
Before buying a home, research home prices in your new area to understand what you can afford. Note the average cost that homes are selling for and set your budget. Prices vary hugely depending on where you are moving to in the country. In a competitive market like Gainesville, you could be looking at $158 per square foot for most homes. Also, look at how much sale prices have averaged over the last year — this should give you a guide price to see if your move is affordable.
If you wish to stay at home and invite a senior roommate, you can look into in-home care, especially as your needs increase and change — Ovation Home Care provides these services. In many cases, making changes to your home will also make life easier for you. Assisted Living suggests that the five best modifications for your home are to widen doorways, install ramps, install handles in the bathroom, set up medical alert systems and add assistive seating. While some of these modifications may seem premature, it is wise to consider your needs and the needs of potential housemates in the future.
Finding a community or person to share your twilight years with brings many people comfort as well as health benefits. It is important that as you age you adopt healthy habits and behaviors. If you are lonely or feel isolated, consider aging communities, senior roommates, and in-home care from Ovation to give you peace of mind. If you want to know more about aging and aging well, visit AgingWellness.org.