Senior Living Engagement Programs: Preventing Isolation in Senior Living


question-symbol How will you encourage my loved one to leave her room and attend programs?

Why it matters: A community can offer fantastic programs, but it only makes a difference if a loved one is getting out of the room and taking advantage of opportunities. 

“Our goal is to get mom or dad outside the apartment,” says Erin Jordan, Memory Care Clinical Specialist for Benchmark. “We don’t want them to be isolated and instead we foster a sense of belonging.”

Active socialization is critical to reduce isolation, boosting cognitive and physical health. Social engagement is one of the key benefits of senior living. Seniors living in assisted living communities have many more opportunities to connect with others through the built-in social network.

Encouraging Participation

One way senior communities encourage participation is by pairing residents of like interests, backgrounds, and vocations together. Communities may even seat these like-minded residents together at mealtimes so the relationships can gain momentum.

Communities also encourage participation by providing regular reminders of upcoming events via calendars, fliers, and phone calls. Through Caremerge, a care and engagement application, residents can receive automated phone calls about upcoming programs of interest.
Another way to boost participation is by welcoming family members to participate in programs with their loved one. Many communities offer family and intergenerational events. Family members are encouraged to attend regularly scheduled outings. Find out if your loved one’s community extends an open invitation for family members to join activities.

A Few Caveats

Of course, when you’re touring a community, you want to see residents out and about and participating in programs. But don’t be fooled if you witness an activity taking place with only a few residents.

“A program doesn’t need 20 people in order to be successful,” says Lynne Dionne, Programming Director at The Arbors of Bedford community, “It’s not just a numbers game.”

book-clubIn fact, some programs, such as book clubs and other discussion groups, are better suited to a small group. And consider the fact that some residents simply feel more comfortable in a small  group program, and would prefer a more intimate setting.

Also, keep in mind if visiting on a Saturday or a holiday, many residents will be out with their families—so be careful not to form hard-and-fast judgments about the community based on attendance at weekend activities.

In the end, while showing up to a few programs doesn’t guarantee happiness, it does mean your loved one is at least engaging with others—which is an important step on the road toward adapting to this new phase of life in a senior community.

Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations
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Content for Open Conversations was developed in partnership with Caregiving Advice.

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