Today I visited a Circle that has been meeting for over one and a half years at an assisted living community. The theme this week was the importance of quality of life vs quantity of life. Frances, 96, and a longtime Circle member offered this particularly compelling observation: “For where we are now…. age gives us purpose. I am wiser, more mature; I am complete now. No number of things or money can take the place.”
The entire circle began shaking their heads affirmatively. Not only was this beautifully spoken, but Frances had expressed the exact sentiment embodied by this wonderful group, men and women who continue along their path into longevity with spirit and intention.
In a setting where few (if any) activities are focused on facilitating long-term social interaction, these weekly conversations offer a breath of fresh air. More importantly, the residents of this community have established deep and rich relationships, and a sense of belonging. The palpable feeling of connection that is typical in this Wednesday afternoon CircleTalk meeting provokes the question: Why is it important that regular and meaningful social engagement is available to adults as they age?
There is no way to escape the fact that as we age we will experience losses that disrupt our social networks. Events such as retirement, an inability to drive, the passing of loved ones, or moving to a senior community can dismantle an aging person’s support network, and diminish one’s quality of life.
In particular, these negative life changes can be exacerbated by relocating to a senior community. They often become places in which a person looks back with nostalgia, looks forward with fear, and lives in a present characterized by isolation and loneliness.
We believe that fostering community through social engagement can reverse this narrative.
Research has shown that increased social interaction can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, while socially isolated people have shorter life spans and increased risk of health problems**. Even our own bodies are telling us to connect more with each other!
The changes that occur as we age need not hold back our spiritual growth. Facilitating community can help us and our loved ones live, as Francis said in her CircleTalk meeting, with purpose, wisdom, maturity and age to completeness.
Don’t miss our next public training to learn the CircleTalk Method! Now enrolling for November 11, 2016 in Boulder, CO. Early-bird rates end 10/10! Learn More
** Roscoe Nicholson in Aging & Wellness March 2015