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Socializing in Assisted Living
Assisted Living can Offer a New Social Life to Seniors

Studies suggest that socializing benefits seniors in a couple of ways. First, it helps to keep minds sharp, and it reduces depression. But it may also assist in preventing dementia. Even community dining shows positive effect on seniors' nutrition. For seniors in assisted living, socialization is very important. So it's no wonder that social activity opportunities are one of the first things a potential resident will ask about when interviewing an assisted living facility.

Assisted Living has long been portrayed in the same light as nursing homes. Over-crowded, boring, and full of residents that sit staring at soap operas all day. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Residents in assisted living facilities are living - and living well. Full, rich lives that include parties, dating, movie nights (on the town), and volunteering. Active older adults choose to live in retirement communities or traditional assisted living facilities, but they are not choosing to leave their lives behind.

Activities and Fitness
Activities and Fitness

Some residents come from a history of depression and avoiding social contact. They believed that because they're older there's nothing fun left to do. Spending time with grandchildren. Knitting. Trying to not embarrass their adult children by appearing to 'act young'. Residents can find a fun new life.

They can have a brand new social life in an assisted living facility. Facilities may host picnics, social mixers, and always encourage their residents to get out and move. There are associations designed for residents of Assisted Living. One of the most well-known organizations that cater to senior citizens is the AARP. Their magazine lists many social opportunities. These opportunities are often advertised in the sidebars of the magazine pages or in the back of the magazine.

Activities and opportunities to socialize are not only offered through activities offered by assisted living facilities, each resident and their family can consider various assisted living resident activities.

How to Measure Socialization

If you are looking for an assisted living facility that provides ample opportunities for residents to gather and participate in group activities, start by asking these questions:

  • Is socialization encouraged and promoted?
  • Does the facility have an activities or recreation director on staff?
  • Is it easy to gather with other residents for impromptu conversations or a game of cards?
  • Are there lounge areas and a dining room for socializing?
  • Do the residents receive a calendar of scheduled activities?
  • Are the residents offered assistance getting to an activity if they need it?

Family Participation

Arrange activities on your own. Don't rely on the staff to make plans for activities. Visits from family members and friends of residents are just as important to the social well-being of residents. There are plenty of ways family can get involved, and if activities are open to other residents it can impact morale in a big way.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Schedule game night once a week. Bring a board game or deck of cards from home.
  • Religious services are important to many residents. Take your loved one to church with you, or help organize a religious study group one evening each week.
  • Eat together. When family members eat at the dining hall with residents it encourages conversations and new friendships.

From walking clubs and yoga classes to bingo and book clubs, there are many opportunities for socializing in assisted living. Take advantage of them!

A Whole New World of Activities

The aging population of Baby Boomers will soon be the dominant group in assisted living facilities. The face of Assisted Living will change dramatically from retirement communities or facilities playing big band music quietly over the speaker system to one of classic rock and green conscious residents. Perceptions will change, forever.

Can you imagine hard rock parties? Wine tastings? 1960s style hippie costume parties? It is coming and soon. Baby Boomers are not ready to settle for supper at 6 P.M., then off to bed! Your typical resident of the near future will be health conscious, well-informed of their rights, and not willing to settle for the low-end of anything.

To find out exactly what's offered by the facility, make plans to visit and stay a while. Talk to the residents and ask about social activities. Choose an assisted living facility that offers the type of activities right for you or your parent. Ask if residents are able to suggest and organize their own social activities, such as shopping outings, movie nights, sight-seeing trips, or whatever you can imagine.

Many assisted living facilities are open to suggestions and happy to accommodate their residents.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.