More Americans are choosing to age in place or stay otherwise connected to their past worlds of family and work. Even if they move into a retirement or assisted living community, keeping up familiar routines can contribute positively to continued quality of life. Community engagement also helps demystify the aging process and span generations with shared interests. Here are five ideas for promoting stronger ties between your community and the communities that surround it.
Libraries or resource centers
Healthy communities value lifelong learning. Consider an onsite library or resource center, perhaps staffed by residents. Open this space up for community use to promote connection over shared interests and educational pursuits. Or partner with a local community college or university to connect residents with classes on campus. University-based retirement communities are another beneficial and unique way to help residents maintain connections with a wider sphere.
Classes and workshops
Many residents may have skills or knowledge they can share. Conversely, communities are full of craftspeople and subject matter experts. Institute a series of community workshops taught by residents, or bring in a local chef to give a cooking class. More communities are developing diverse program offerings. Consider having residents help lead these programs, and invite the surrounding community to take part.
Walking paths and transportation
Make sure the community is accessible from your resident’s doors. Walkable paths or easy transportation around the community will promote involvement and familiarity amongst senior housing residents and those in the surrounding area. Aging in place on a fixed income can also make rising gas costs prohibitive to mobility, and a community’s walkability makes a strong positive case for growing numbers of retirees.
Regularly recurring events can grow into traditions that involve the whole community. Hold a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease or run a humane society awareness drive. A Place For Mom suggests these ideas for a variety of cross-generational events. Invite high schoolers to bingo games or pancake breakfasts. Have working professionals or moms with young children in for quarterly or annual celebrations, forums, or mixers.
Put a personal touch on applications like Instacart or Uber. Develop your own rideshare programs or grocery delivery services within the community to connect your residents with the people–not just the services–of the outside world.
Whatever your community’s strengths, providing two-way access to the surrounding community can deepen and strengthen your reach and the quality of your residents’ lives.