Find Your Happy Place – Clinical Benefits of Senior Socialization

Posted by Jennifer Allee on March 21, 2023

About the Author, Jennifer Allee, Director of Clinical Compliance

Jennifer Allee is a seasoned healthcare professional with 15 years of industry experience. She discovered her passion for senior living when she joined Enlivant in 2018 as a Regional Director of Care Services, helping communities proactively respond to the resident’s individual needs. Jennifer currently serves as the Director of Clinical Compliance and is focused on elevating the resident experience. 

Our goal at Enlivant is to help our senior residents thrive every day. Our communities work to meet each resident’s unique needs by providing quality care and environments that foster socialization and a sense of belonging. Our compassionate clinical staff are committed to providing the specific care each resident requires to flourish, which allows them to feel healthy, happy and at home with us.

The Risks of Social Isolation in Seniors

The health benefits from social interaction have been well studied in all phases of life, from childhood through adulthood, but the importance cannot be overstated in the senior population. There is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. 

Health risks include premature death, dementia, increased potential of heart disease and stroke, depression, anxiety, and heart failure to name a few. A lack of socialization can also lead to loneliness, depression and can also impact memory and cognitive skills.

In contrast, regular socialization can help prevent some of these illnesses in seniors and contributes to building resilience, happiness and a more fulfilled life. 

Person-Centered Care Planning

At each of our communities, clinical teams gather meaningful resident information as soon as they move in, so we can create a person-centered care plan. This information doesn’t just include medical and health history; we also take note of resident preferences and interests. We reassess our residents’ needs on a quarterly and as needed basis to ensure we’re providing exceptional care.

Clinical also partners closely with the Life Enrichment team to provide diverse and tailored opportunities for positive social interactions. Our commitment to person-centered care means resident’s care plans are visible to all staff at our communities, ensuring each knows how to engage our residents in the most impactful way. 

A Warm Welcome Home

We all know how difficult change can be. It can be incredibly stressful for seniors to change their entire routine and environment when they move in with us. Our “Welcome Home” program, fostered by our care team, is a crucial piece to helping our residents acclimate and form relationships.

For a new residents’ first week, we pair them with a dedicated Resident Care Partner. All week, the Resident Care Partner escorts the resident to meals, coordinates introductions to department leaders within the community, and introduces them to fellow residents who share similar interests.

At the end of the week, the community hosts a “Welcome Home” party to provide opportunities to socialize and celebrate – and family members are encouraged to attend. All of these components together create a positive and welcoming move-in experience.

The Benefits of Socialization in Seniors

Watching a resident rediscover their true self or even transform back into the social butterfly he or she embodied in earlier years is so rewarding. Here’s one example of Helen, a 92-year-old widow living alone in her long-time home. She had been an active member of her church, but after her husband’s passing, she was without transportation and no longer able to attend mass – or leave her home much at all. The isolation took its toll: she lost interest in maintaining her personal appearance, developed mild paranoia and would no longer engage in her beloved hobby, gardening. 

At the persistence of her son, Helen reluctantly left her familiar surroundings and moved in with us. The clinical team created her individualized care plan and got to know her, helping her acclimate to the community. 

Knowing that she was strong in her faith, our Life Enrichment Coordinator invited her to attend the community's Sunday services. She was hesitant, so the pastor visited Helen in her apartment. The team also put her in touch with the community’s Resident Ambassador – a designated resident who helps create social connections – who shared similar values. The Resident Ambassador engaged her in conversation and introduced her to other community members too.

After about a month of patient but diligent efforts, Helen felt comfortable enough to attend scheduled activities. Now, she leads a weekly church group for women; serves as Resident Council president; and gardens with renewed passion. Her feelings of loneliness and paranoia have subsided, and she lives an active, purposeful, and happy life once again.

Find your happy place at Enlivant! Explore our communities to see if one is the right fit for you or your loved one.