Before Sandy moved to a senior living community, she lived alone in a Pasadena condo. Early retirement from an engaging and challenging career meant the loss of daily contact with friends she was accustomed to and enjoyed.

Her daughter, Michelle, began to worry about the toll isolation was having on her mother. Michelle considered building an addition to her home for her mom to live in, but the cost was prohibitive. And, honestly, Sandy didn’t really want to burden her daughter’s family.

Situations like Sandy’s are common. More than 11.3 million seniors in the U.S. experience regular isolation, which carries increased risk of elder abuse, physiological issues, cognitive decline, and depression. They may have lost spouses or friends — or, like Sandy, they may have noticed that socializing regularly has become more difficult.

Initially, Sandy worried that leaving her home of 22 years would backfire, especially if it meant moving to a senior living community where she didn’t know a soul. She took the risk and made the move to a community in Duarte, California — and she didn’t feel like the new kid for long. After just two weeks, her children and grandchildren noticed that she kept missing their calls — once she was at a community wine party, another time it was a concert, another it was water aerobics, and once she was off on a group outing to a downtown restaurant.

“I’m so much happier here than living by myself,” Sandy says. “Well, I still live by myself — but I don’t live by myself!”

Independence and Community

Senior living communities give residents the opportunity to socialize and interact with others without threatening the independence that makes them who they are.

According to a Senior Living Research study conducted by the Eidex Research Group, 98 percent of the seniors who participated in the study cited continued independence a major factor when selecting a community. Other factors included security, removal of obstacles, socialization, and friendly staff — all of which were listed by at least 90 percent of participants.

Seniors who make the switch to community living often discover the psychological and logistical benefits almost immediately. Whether it’s feeling supported during times of sadness, experiencing the restorative effects of renewed physical activities, or simply enjoying the company of others, senior living communities give residents the opportunity to do what they want, when they want, with whom they want.

Why Make the Switch?

As we age, we start to appreciate the value of a strong body and sound mind. Living a rich and purposeful life requires a holistic approach to wellness — maintaining our physical health, feeling comfortable and secure, engaging with others, and operating on our own terms.

Community living offers all of these benefits and more:

1. Eating Well

Many seniors who live alone struggle to go to the store or prepare their favorite meals. Community living not only offers access to nutritious foods, but it also allows residents to consult with a dietician to address their individual concerns.

2. Staying Active

If mobility becomes limited, exercise can sound like an impossible task. Communities offer fitness centers and classes ranging from yoga and water aerobics to tennis and belly dancing, so seniors can stay active and healthy.

3. Socializing

As Sandy’s situation proved, socialization can improve quality of life and physical health in numerous ways. While many seniors who live alone suffer from isolation, those in communities have ample opportunities to interact with others through group activities, lectures, trips, and more. Participating in activities isn’t mandatory, but after people settle in, they often find themselves socializing much more frequently than they did while they were living alone.

4. Maintaining Health

Senior living communities offer on-site health clinics, specialized nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more. Residents can have their healthcare needs met right on site, and potential health issues are easier to spot when seniors frequently see friends and staff.

After years spent surrounded by family, friends and co-workers, isolation is jarring — and its effects on health and well-being are significant. But getting older doesn’t have to mean being lonely. If you or someone you love would benefit from a change in scenery, consider the advantages to a senior living community, and research the options in your area.

Author's Bio: 

John H. Cochrane III is the president and CEO of, a nonprofit organization committed to revolutionize and redefine senior living by offering ways to help older adults continue to learn and grow. Connect with on Facebook.