Retirement communities are fast becoming crucial parts of American society. By 2025, the first of approximately 77 million Baby Boomers will reach the age of 80. This is the age where people begin to require higher levels of long-term care and medical services. And by 2030, millions more from that generation will be joining the retired population.
As we approach these critical years in elderly care, it’s important to understand and appreciate why retirement communities are such popular options for older adults— for both those with and without health conditions.
The National Institute on Aging has revealed that social isolation and loneliness are linked to increased risks of hypertension, heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline, among many others. A similar study by the University College London supports this data, and further says that 60-year-olds who interact with friends almost daily were 12% less likely to develop dementia than those who only saw a couple of friends every few months.
In retirement homes, residents are surrounded by like-minded people. They can share experiences with each other, and with their carers, giving them emotional support. These residents are able to build a social circle and feel less alone especially when compared to those who live alone – this benefits their psychosocial well-being.
As more and more people are entering the retirement community system, there’s a surge of demand for skilled medical professionals, resulting in a shortage. This was exacerbated by the onslaught of the pandemic, when healthcare workers like physicians, medical technicians, and nurses— even those who are retired —were called to theCOVID-19 frontlines. Unfortunately, this affected the number of geriatric nurses available for elderly care.
This demand is set to continue rising, as retirement communities are committed to providing the best round-the-clock care to their residents. Fortunately, remote learning is helping close this gap, with nurses taking online RN to BSN programs to allow them to specialize in areas such as gerontology. These programs are taught completely online so these practitioners don’t need to take time off work to advance their careers. Since these programs use government-accredited curriculums, they’re just as valid as in-person training. These online courses give more people opportunities to join the healthcare workforce since they make education more accessible. Moreover, remote learning helps produce more graduates who are skilled specifically in elderly care, including preventative and emergency care.
Exercise is essential for people of all ages. In fact, it may even be doubly important for older people. Regular physical activity covering endurance, muscle strengthening, balance, and flexibility exercises are crucial for healthy aging. This reduces the risk of several cardiovascular diseases, chronic health conditions, osteoporosis, and even some types of cancer. Additionally, it also decreases the risks of falls and their consequential injuries, which are common in older adults.
Oftentimes, retirement communities offer wellness programs to their residents by default. And these programs are much more comprehensive than just home exercises. Residents could have the opportunity to join yoga classes, for one. Other retirement homes may even organize strength training classes or facilitate meetings with wellness professionals to help craft personalized wellness plans for residents.
Retirement communities provide holistic care for elderly people. As such, they improve residents’ overall well-being— this includes not just the physical health, but the social and psychological aspects of wellness, too.
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By Jennifer Viktoria