Active adult communities are specially designed for people 55 or older who are seeking a way to simplify their lives and find freedom from homeownership. These communities don’t just offer a roof over your head; they also let you stay active with mentally and physically stimulating things to do, included in your monthly rent.
In fact, choosing an active adult community over a regular apartment complex can help you improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Here’s how!
Get Peer Support in a 55+ Adult Community
It can be difficult to radically change your lifestyle after you’ve established a home elsewhere. Uprooting your life, downsizing, selling your home, and moving into an apartment community can be disturbing and anxiety-inducing at best. And sometimes family members who are only trying to help you really don’t understand what you’re going through.
In an active adult living community, your neighbors all know exactly what it’s like to change how you live so drastically, to go from homeownership and full autonomy, to living in an apartment home. Your peers and neighbors can provide excellent support to help you make the transition and move beyond the painful emotions that you’re experiencing. Selling your home can leave you with a sense of loss, and together with your friends, you can move past it and learn how you can fully enjoy the second chapter of your life, with no extra responsibilities attached.
Being Active Keeps Your Body Healthy
Living alone, especially if you don’t often drive, can age your mind and body more quickly than if you stay connected to the world. Physical activity helps to keep your muscles strong, can help alleviate arthritis stiffness, increase flexibility, and prevent injuries.
Living in an active adult community comes with built-in friends, in the form of your neighbors, and there’s always plenty of activities you can do together. You can take brisk walks outdoors around the community, partake in fitness classes in the community room or recreation center, and even volunteer to help organize fun events, like potlucks and holiday parties.
Keeping active prevents muscle atrophy, decreases your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, and is good for your heart, too. Staying active can also decrease your risk of falling because it improves strength, muscle tone, and balance.
An Active Lifestyle Slows Alzheimer’s
An active lifestyle could preserve gray matter in your brain and reduce the severity and onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is prevalent; more than 35 million people worldwide are diagnosed with it, according to the World Health Organization.
A medical study at the University of California in Los Angeles found a strong association between energy output – exercise, participating in activities, and more – and gray matter volumes in the parts of the brain important for cognitive function. The study involved 875 adults, with an average age of 78, who live across the country. Researchers studied 20 years of clinical data on the group, including body mass index and lifestyle habits.
Using MRI and voxel-based morphometry, plus examining lifestyle factors, researchers found that greater caloric expenditure – that is, the more active someone was – was related to larger gray matter volumes in important areas of the brain. In general, the larger the gray matter, the healthier the brain. Dr. Cyrus Raji, a lead researcher on the study, noted that “Our initial results show that brain aging can be alleviated through an active lifestyle.”
Aerobic exercise can help expend calories quickly, and active adult communities offer fitness classes and gyms for their residents. If physical fitness can keep your brain in tip-top shape, then an active living community is well-equipped to help you do it.
Active Adult Communities Soothe Your Anxieties
If you owned your own home and lived alone in it before, you had to plan hours of upkeep to your property and find a way to carry them out – whether you’re still capable of doing it yourself, or if you had to hire someone to take care of it for you. And when you’re living alone, you risk not having someone around when you need them, should you take a fall or sustain an injury – or just need help getting your groceries inside.
You’re never truly alone when you live in a 55+ active adult community, where neighbors look out for you, and the staff are always happy to help. You don’t have to worry about the “what ifs” anymore, because you have someone who will step in to help you or get you help if you need it. You can feel safe living independently again.
Order and Eat Healthy Meals
Many active adult living communities offer residents the option of purchasing prepared meals, or having a chef prepare individual meals for them in their own homes. These choices can help you ensure you’re getting adequate, balanced nutrition without having to worry about cooking, food prep, or clean-up.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, healthy meals fuel your brain properly. Your brain functions best when you eat high-quality foods full of the nutrients you need. This food nourishes your brain and protects it from what is called oxidative stress – the waste products your body makes when it uses oxygen – which damages cells.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, and mood, is mostly produced in your gastrointestinal tract. Inside your tract are nerve cells that keep your digestive system working and influence your emotions. People who eat healthier diets as compared to the typical American diet, have a decreased risk of depression – up to 35 percent. These healthier diets are high in veggies, fruit, unprocessed grain, and fermented foods.
By eating a balanced diet using the food services at your active adult community, you can help keep depression at bay and enjoy living a fulfilling lifestyle.
Finding a Community
Locating an active adult living community that suits you shouldn’t be difficult. There are many options you can choose from, some income-based, and some not, that will fit within your monthly budget and allow you to continue living independently.
To find one, ask around at your local senior center for recommendations or search online. Take tours of each community to help you decide which you like best. We’re confident that you’ll soon be experiencing the joy of living without the burdens of homeownership while making the most of your retirement.