What to Know About Your Mental Health, and How Community Living Helps
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. You might have heard that older adults and seniors may be more likely to experience anxiety and depression. But the reasons might surprise you. Keep reading to find out why, learn about the mental health benefits of living in a community, and discover some helpful tips along the way.
What are some of the reasons seniors are at a higher risk for mental health challenges? Surprisingly, experts say that it has nothing to do with the aging process itself. In fact, developing mental health challenges in general are not an inevitable part of getting older. It comes down to certain external factors that seniors are more likely to experience, including health problems, grieving the loss of loved ones, and social isolation. They all directly impact mental wellbeing.
Research also suggests that seniors who live in communities like Benchmark may have better mental health outcomes than those who live alone. One study found that seniors living in apartment communities reported higher levels of social support and lower levels of loneliness. Another study reported better mental health outcomes among seniors who lived in communities with supportive services, such as meals, transportation, and social activities. At Benchmark Senior Living, we’ve seen firsthand how these services really have an impact on our residents’ mental wellbeing.
Here are some specific ways that we support our residents’ mental health at our Benchmark communities:
- Mindfulness Activities: Each community offers a variety of classes, such as meditation, guided imagery, tai chi, yoga, wellness programs, and a variety of exercise programs, which are all designed to support and improve physical and mental health.
- Social Opportunities: Residents are surrounded by their peers and Benchmark associates throughout the day, which can really help to combat and prevent loneliness and isolation.
- Specialized Support Groups: To help combat loneliness, many of our communities offer support groups for those living with or impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, low vision, and other health challenges.
- Grief Support and Memorial Services: In addition to health support groups, we also provide emotional support for those who are navigating loss and grief. Many of our communities hold memorial services to honor those in our communities that have passed on. Saying goodbye isn’t easy, but having a community to lean on can go a long way, and may help give people closure. Residents and associates are invited to speak, share, and commemorate those who are no longer with us.
- Off-Site Excursions: A change of scenery can do wonders for your mental health. We regularly offer opportunities for residents to go outside of our communities with trips to local parks, museums, performances, shopping excursions, and more.
The importance of mental health doesn’t stop at our residents; our associates are vitally important to everything we do. So, to support their mental wellbeing, we’ve partnered with the Spring Health platform in order to provide wellness benefits that are available to all of our associates and their families. Some of these benefits include:
- A holistic, personalized approach with a dedicated Care Navigator – a licensed clinician who can help find the right therapist, schedule appointments, offer emotional support, and provide step-by-step guidance.
- Regular mental health check-ins. They’re just as important as that annual physical.
- Confidential therapy with a trusted therapist in as soon as two days. Associates and dependents each have six sessions at no cost to them, covered by Benchmark. They have access to a diverse network of therapists by specialty, language, ethnicity, gender identity, LGBTQ+ preferences, and more.
- Medication management with in-network prescribers.
- Moments, an on-demand library of self-guided wellness exercises to improve mental wellbeing, with specific programs for anxiety, burnout, better sleep, and more.
- Professional coaching to help set and achieve goals for managing stress, relationships, focus, and more.
- Work-life services and access to legal assistance, financial services, child or elder care, travel, and more.
Wherever you are in your mental health journey, it helps to be in a supportive environment, especially at a Benchmark community. After all, mental health is health. It’s why we take mental health as seriously as we do – not just for our residents, but for all of our associates and their families. Learn more about how we can help you and your loved ones live your best lives with an in-person tour. Get started below.
1. Karel, M. J., Gatz, M., & Smyer, M. A. (2012). Aging and mental health in the decade ahead: What psychologists need to know. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 25(3), 137-145.
2. Hwang, E., Cummings, S. M., & Kang, S. J. (2015). The relationship between social support and loneliness in Korean elders living in apartment communities. Journal of Housing for the Elderly, 29(4), 419-432. DOI: 10.1080/02763893.2015.1054588
3. Shrestha, S., & Marek, K. D. (2017). The effects of affordable senior housing on health, well-being, and health care utilization. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 60(3), 184-197. DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2016.1257046