Sep 21 2023

Wellness matters, especially when choosing a senior living community

Seniors ride exercise bikes in a spinning class

We all know how beneficial regular exercise can be, and it’s a key part of promoting good health into later years. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. “It can help prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with age,” the CDC says, adding that this can help seniors stay more independent. 

Many older adults are even able to compete in athletic events. Take Tony Diamond, a resident of White Horse Village and lifelong runner and marathoner, who in his 90s recently brought home top medals from the Senior Games

Increasingly, we’ve also come to understand that good mental health is an integral part of fitness as well. 

That’s why it’s so crucial to take a holistic view of health seriously when considering a senior living destination. Many important factors go into making a community the right choice, but a dedication to wellness must be at the top of the list. 

Here are some signs to tell if a community prioritizes wellness. 

1. Facilities that make it easy to incorporate fitness

You can learn a lot about a community’s priorities by observing where it devotes its resources. Does it have walking trails and outdoor recreation spaces? Does the organization commit staff members to supporting and working with residents? 

Does it have ample gym space with up-to-date equipment? Good options for seniors include rowing machines, ellipticals, and exercise bikes that can be easily adjusted to fit each person’s capabilities and are available whatever the weather. 

If all these amenities are centrally located where everyone can get to them easily, that’s a definite plus. 

2. A wide range of activities for all abilities

Everyone is different. Some love long walks on a treadmill, while others prefer to swim or play sports. A community serious about fitness will offer a mix of options, from a pool to workout equipment, physical therapy and massage, that can be effective for a variety of fitness levels and abilities. 

Residents who are no longer able to live independently should also have robust access to activities and exercise that meet their physical needs, whatever those are. Properly adapted, that can include yoga, cardio exercise, and even strength training. 

Seniors stretch as they participate in an outdoor yoga class.

3. An emphasis on different kinds of health

Maintaining good health isn’t just about cardio training or situps, but a comprehensive approach that weaves regular exercise and mental wellness together for living a fuller, happier life. People need positive creative outlets, meaningful relationships, and a chance to focus on their spiritual values if desired. 

“Our bodies and minds are not separate, so it’s not surprising that mental ill health can affect your body,” the Mental Health Foundation notes. For example, physical symptoms accompanying anxiety and depression can include upset stomach, headache, fatigue, and digestive problems, the foundation says. 

It’s also critically important to be mindful about diet, which can have a huge impact on quality of life. It’s just common sense that what we put into our bodies will affect how we feel and how we can fight off illness, and as we age that becomes increasingly apparent.  

Look for a community that offers support for all these areas, with access to a nutritionist, therapist or spiritual advisor, and worship services or mindfulness sessions.

A man in a senior living community exercises with dumbbells, advised by a personal trainer.

4. Structured classes to add skills

Sometimes, you just need a little extra reminder or motivation to be active. Fitness classes that teach exercise routines, yoga, and more can help with this and offer a way to explore new pastimes and passions. 

At White Horse Village, we offer a regular series of classes called Wellness University, which cover seven dimensions of health: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. We bring in experts as well as our own team members and residents to share their knowledge, and participants are even able to earn college credit. 

Programs like these can make it easier to incorporate wellness into a daily routine, becoming a natural part of life rather than a task to check off a to-do list. 

When choosing a senior living community, wellness is too important to be an afterthought. Make sure examining this aspect is part of your search process, and that the community you select takes it as seriously as you do. That way, you’ll have the support you need to stay active and fit into later life.