How Older Adults Can Make Aging in Community Work for Them
By Jim McKinley
Photo Credit: Pexels
As we age, sometimes it seems harder to make and maintain social connections. However, social connections are essential for maintaining mental health. Having a strong support network can also help older adults stay safe and healthy as they age. With this in mind, many adults have started to look for ways to age in community and keep their social connections thriving. If you need help connecting with positive people, then the following options may just be for you.
Find an Option That Works for You
For adults looking to age in a community with other aging adults, there are quite a few housing options available. Some older adults may find it more beneficial to move into a senior village or retirement community, which are neighborhoods and apartment complexes set up specifically for older adults. Many of these communities offer a sense of security, worry-free maintenance, and even social events to help you get to know your community members. Another housing option is home sharing. You can find a roommate who can help you maintain your home and provide some social connection in your everyday life. If you do choose to share a home with someone, keep your safety a top priority and do your homework before you commit to living with someone you do not know.
Stay Connected with Your Community
Aging in community doesn’t have to mean moving to a retirement village. By staying connected to your neighbors and the community around you, you can ensure that you retain the feelings of safety, security and comfort without having to leave your home. You can stay connected to others in your area by staying active in a local church, attending neighborhood functions and signing up for volunteer work. If you’re having trouble creating a social network, there may also be organizations, or even apps, that can help. Many nonprofits and community initiatives work to connect older adults to helpful resources, community members and even younger generations.
Make Accessibility Upgrades to Your Home
Even with a strong support network, you still need to make sure you are able to age in place safely at home. If you are living with limited mobility, that means making changes so that it is easier to get around. Talk to a contractor about accessibility upgrades such as wider doorways to allow for wheelchairs and non-slip flooring to aid the use of a walker or cane.
Even for those without mobility issues, it’s still important to make safety changes at home, especially preventing falls. Falls are the leading cause of serious injury and death for older Americans, and most falls happen right at home. However, you can prevent them by getting regular exercise and completing some simple home improvement projects, like installing grab bars in the bathroom or using a seat in your shower. If you need help paying for these projects, look into funding options that may be available to you.
Get Adjusted to a New Home
In some cases, a change of scenery can be nice when you are having trouble maintaining a larger home or have recently lost a loved one. Prepare for your move ahead of time by decluttering and downsizing your belongings. You may also want to look into hiring movers to help you pack your things and get them to your new home in one piece, and without the risk of injury for yourself. Once you are all moved in, be patient as you get settled in your new home. Talk to your property manager about community events and socials, say “hi” to your neighbors, or invite them over for a cup of coffee. With a little work and some time, you will begin to feel right at home again and may even find yourself happier in your new home!
Whether you want to age in place in your own home or live with other retirees, looking for ways to age in community is a great solution to maintaining social connections. Strong social ties are the key to preventing issues like depression and can even help you stay safer.