Friendships and Love in Independent Living

Cheerful senior couple having fun in the park. Focus is on woman who is being encouraged by man.

Valentine’s Day celebrated love in its many forms: romantic, platonic, familial, and communal. Research has consistently shown that strong social ties contribute to improved mental and physical health, increased longevity, and a higher quality of life among seniors. So, whatever our age, friendship and love are central to a fulfilling life. Independent living communities, like the ones at Charlesgate, offer a unique environment where seniors can embrace the company of like-minded individuals.

Independent senior living can mean a wide variety of residential options. Maintenance-free apartments with different floor plans ranging from a cozy studio to large two-bedroom apartments usually have amenities like an onsite coordinator and emergency response system. Typically designed for individuals 55 or older, independent living facilities frequently have an executive chef to design delicious meals for residents and guests, often with nostalgic and cultural items.

Many independent living communities are often architecturally designed to encourage engagement. Manju Pai, the founder of StudioPi2 Architects, explains, “In terms of overall design and layouts, communal spaces to promote social interactions…is a top priority…[W]e’re committed to finding innovative solutions to incorporate areas for residents to express themselves creatively, learn new things, connect with nature, bond with others, have fun and stay fit.” So, there might be pathways that take individuals through or by specific spaces, like a living room area or art studio.

Of course, the big draw for many to independent living is the activity calendar, full of diverse programs to stay in shape, have fun, or learn something new. Organized social events, such as holiday parties, game nights, and cultural celebrations help residents come together, socialize, and form connections based on shared interests and experiences. Group interests like exercise classes, arts and crafts workshops, and book clubs foster a sense of camaraderie. Activity professionals create enrichment activities that contribute to person-centered, person-directed care. Shared meals also provide a natural setting for residents to connect over food, share stories, and build friendships.

The success stories of lasting relationships formed in senior living communities are ample. Research has shown that interacting with friends plays a stronger role in senior’s daily emotional well-being than other relationships. Many are even finding romantic love. Richard Duke and Rosemarie Phillips met at a senior living community in Idaho, began dating in July 2023, and tied the knot in November that same year. “Every Wednesday, we’d get together and start line dancing,” Rosemarie told the local paper. “We found out that we were both from Montana, and the rest is history.”

In the golden years of life, friendship and love are more important than ever. Independent senior living communities offer seniors the chance to embrace meaningful connections as well as the love – in whatever form – that comes with them.

Categories: Aging Well, Senior Living