The Secret to Social Connectedness: Staying Engaged with Life

Written by Amanda Baushke, senior partnership specialist with Masterpiece Living

During the month of February, Masterpiece Living partner communities across the country, like The Birches, are participating in the Living It Campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage residents, team members and family members to create new neural pathways in their brains by trying new pursuits in the areas of social engagement, spiritual fulfillment, physical health and intellectual vitality. The overarching theme this year is social connectedness.

Recently, multiple studies have shown the importance of social connections. It’s been found that people with poor social connections are at the same risk of mortality as people with multiple chronic diseases, and according to one study, at the same risk of mortality as people who smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day.

The very nature of senior living encourages social connection and togetherness. Meals take place in a common area, neighbors gather around the mailbox, friends participate in programs together, and it’s rare to walk through a community without running into someone who lives or works there.

When I visit Masterpiece Living partner communities, teams are often quick to share that they excel in social connectedness—that there are more opportunities than time in the day. I agree—there are many social opportunities in senior living—but how often is that social connection surface level? While a friendly hello, a conversation about the weather or a simple smile can be warm and welcoming, it’s deep, meaningful conversations that connect one human being to another.

The MacArthur Foundation study on successful aging found that successful agers have three things in common. They work to maintain physical and cognitive function, they avoid disease and disability and they are continually engaged with life.

Continually engaged with life. What does that look like in senior living? It means that you have people you can count on and people that count on you. You give back to the world by volunteering, have a special relationship with a grandchild or share your passions by leading a program or by attending a program that another resident is leading. It means that residents and team members are able to connect and really know one another.

So, as we embark on this journey of new pursuits through the lens of social connectedness, I encourage you to be present in the moment as you laugh with a new friend, reach out to an old one or change your go-to greeting at the mailbox to something as simple as, “What do you want for yourself today?”

Curious how Birches residents and team members stay socially connected and engaged with life during the Living It campaign and beyond? Click “follow” at the top of this post to subscribe to our blog.