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Cultivating Social Wellness

July 11, 2022
Categories: Health | Our Community

The month of July is recognized as Social Wellness Month. We hear often about the importance of physical wellness and, more recently, emotional wellness, but social wellness plays a crucial role in our overall well-being.

Social wellness is all about the relationships we have and the health of those relationships. People with strong support systems enjoy a range of benefits like an increased immune response to infectious disease, a better heart and blood pressure response to stress and may even have an extended life expectancy.

As people age, it can be harder to maintain strong social connections, but it’s a more important time than ever to do so.

Living at VMRC lends itself to cultivating social wellness through the many programs offered and the organic opportunities to engage with others.

For resident Betty Brunk, the COVID-19 pandemic meant she wasn’t able to see friends nearly as much as before. As the weather warmed up in the summer of 2020, Betty invited other residents to join her in an outdoor Mental Health Hour. The group started meeting outside for an hour a week and now, two years later, still gather to chat about current events and what’s going on in each other’s lives.

The Main Street Café, open for breakfast and lunch, is another hub of activity. A group of “regulars” can be found most mornings having coffee and conversation. Pablo and Elaine Cuevas moved to VMRC in 2021 and visit the café for breakfast every morning. Pablo said, “When we moved here, we still wanted to be social and this is a way to do that—it’s good for our mental health to start the day seeing and talking with other people, even if it’s just a simple greeting.”

For others, they’ve combined physical and social wellness through VMRC’s Wellness Center. Residents Jim and Barbara Gilchrest found they were often seeing the same folks during their morning exercise routine, but didn’t know who they were. Barbara introduced herself and now, after morning workouts, they all gather for a few minutes to chat and engage in lively debate. "It's great to start the day off with a workout for the body and mind," said Jim.

While living in a retirement community offers many opportunities for cultivating social wellness, there are plenty of ways for seniors to stay engaged in the greater community as well.

Ideas for staying engaged:

- Volunteer at a local nonprofit
- Take up a new hobby or join a group focused on something you’ve always enjoyed
- Join in faith-based opportunities through your church, such as the choir or small groups
- Reconnect with a family member or friend for in-person visits or via social media or phone.

Whether you’re looking to maintain or cultivate healthy relationships, keeping an eye on our social wellness is an important part of our overall wellness journey and a key component in being the healthiest version of ourselves. 

Sources used for this blog post:
https://www.nih.gov/health-information/social-wellness-toolkit

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“The response from the VMRC community of staff and residents has been quite welcoming.  We've enjoyed meeting friends old and new which has been very enriching.”

- New VMRC Resident, 2018