Studies are beginning to show that cancer may no longer be the most concerning risk factor in aging seniors. The new culprit? Loneliness. In fact, loneliness and isolation impact lifespan just as much as smoking and even more so than obesity. The threat of loneliness comes from “a lack of meaningful and sustained contact” with other people. We are hard-wired for social interaction and community. When these social needs go unmet, feelings of hopelessness often contribute to a negative perspective of the future and have been found to be related to an increase in the likeliness of “breast cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease” (National Academy of Sciences).
The American Psychological Association agrees that “a socially active life and prioritizing social goals are associated with higher late-life satisfaction and less severe declines toward the end of life.” Living in community provides cognitive stimulation and generally leads to a more physically active lifestyle. Investing time and resources into socially oriented activities boosts well-being by participating in activities that bring joy, provide higher self-esteem and sense of control, and encourage physical and cognitive activity. Living in community offers a lifestyle that can make senior living the best years of your life. It’s never too late to begin pursuing a healthy and meaningful life.