Community and Connection Key to Better Long-Term Health
Research shows living in a community and having opportunities for regular, meaningful social connections is frequently linked to better long-term health outcomes, particularly among older adults. According to Psychology Today, social connection and engagement are associated with better physical health and a stronger immune system for older adults, improved mood, and a lower risk of dementia.
What does it mean to live in a United Active Living community? Community is one of United’s core values, along with respect and individuality. This means there’s plenty of opportunity to see yourself in a new way that has lots of possibilities to learn and continue growing.
Community Creates a Sense of Purpose
As people, we value the sense of belonging and purpose that comes with being part of a group. At United, employees and residents engage with purpose and over time, establish strong relationships that enrich each other’s lives. These connections go beyond our doors into the community at large.
In our latest resident satisfaction survey, respondents shared United team members were a top contributor to their satisfaction. According to United employees, the feeling is mutual: in a 2022 engagement survey, team members shared their relationships with residents was the thing they enjoyed most about working in our communities.
In a recent blog, we shared how United’s philosophy of community extends to use and design of space. These spaces encourage connection and offer residents daily opportunities to take part in lifelong learning: courses, lectures and musical events, political discussions and more.
Lifelong learning is just the start, and we know community is cultivated in many ways. Residents observe community develops because of the people in it combined with frequent occasions and venues to meet, connect and enjoy experiences together. Residents often make new friends when they move to a United community, starting with monthly welcome teas and birthday celebrations. Making new friends can be more challenging without intentional events to break the ice or well-designed spaces that invite people to come together, which is why United puts emphasis on designing purpose-built spaces for connection and developing a comprehensive program calendar that reflects the interests of residents.
“I have people around and I can share interests with my neighbours and friends,” said Jill Formaz, who moved to United last April. “Living alone, there isn’t always that opportunity. When I moved from Florida to an apartment in Calgary, I hardly saw anyone or went anywhere. Here, meals are a social event. We go on outings, attend concerts and lectures, and spend time in the art studio. United has a real community feel to it.”
“When I moved from Victoria to an apartment in Calgary, I was one of the oldest residents there,” said Gordon Patterson, who moved to United a year ago. “Most of the people were much younger and worked during the day so I rarely saw anyone. I had a friend at United who showed me around and I decided to come here. I really enjoyed making the move. There’s lots of different programs, and I joined the Residents Council and am part of the welcome committee. When a new resident moves in I visit with them and offer them the important tips about living here. I’m making new friends and I’m doing a lot more now than when I lived in my apartment.”
Employees Play an Important Role in Community
An active, vibrant community includes employees as well. Team members are encouraged to get to know residents personally – to spend the time and have a friendly conversation, establish rapport with a resident’s family and friends, or to simply be a listening ear. This creates an environment focused on building relationships, which ultimately builds trust and connection among those who live and work at United. An active Residents Council, regular community town halls, and busy suggestion boxes are all vital to ensuring residents and team members can actively build a community that supports a vibrant and active quality of life.
The benefits of community extend far beyond the good feeling you get when sharing a friendly greeting with a neighbour. Maintaining a strong sense of purpose and belonging into your later years has many added (and proven) benefits to physical and mental health, which is why community is one of United’s core values.
Speak with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!