We all know that it takes a village to raise a child, and as it turns out, the village concept carries over really well into aging. We know that isolation has an enormous impact on the emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing of older adults, with the potential for such serious consequences as depression and an earlier demise. Conversely, remaining social into our elder years reaps rewards such as reduced levels of stress and anxiety, enhanced feelings of usefulness and purpose, and even improved cognitive ability.
And while home care affords a wonderful opportunity for frail seniors to stay somewhat social, what about those of us who are technically “over the hill” but not yet in need of help with ambulation, meals, and med reminders?
Enter villages – just one of a growing number of trends in connecting likeminded seniors with social resources and opportunities; an adult version of playdates, if you will. Seniors craving friendships are able to meet and enjoy activities with others – traveling, biking, wine tasting – the sky’s the limit, really. The village environment fills the gaping social void that’s often so painfully apparent once naturally-occurring social opportunities such as from work, church or school settings are no longer a part of everyday life.
One particular model, NextGen2.0, is especially interesting to me. The program requires its members to be active participants in thinking and planning for the social and recreational avenues they wish to pursue, and to make that a priority in life. And, as members age, a safety net is already in place to cover additional needs as they develop.
To find a village in your area, check out the Village to Village Network (vtvnetwork.org). Or, learn how to start your own! Whatever you do, maintain, strengthen, and treasure those precious connections to others.
“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe