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The upside of community living

Engaging with others around common interests delivers significant benefits

Dorrie Anshel
March 19, 2020

The National Institute on Aging cites research that shows "a strong correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults."

That's why so many seniors are opting to live in communities like Cedar Crest in Pompton Plains, N.J., where they can stay active and connected. All the amenities—fitness center, indoor swimming pool, theater, restaurants, game rooms, art studio, TV studio, and clubs—are under one roof, making it easy to engage with peers. Outings to cultural events are always on the schedule. With so much to do on and off campus, residents can pursue longtime hobbies and discover exciting new interests.

Erica Zayat, senior manager of resident services, says, "We're more than just a place to enjoy a maintenance-free retirement—we're a community where you can meet new people, experience new things, and live your life to the fullest."

Engaging with others around common interests enriches community members' emotional well-being and cognitive function, and may even help prevent certain age-related illnesses.

Badge of independence or isolation?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 million seniors live alone, usually in their family home. Many view "aging in place" as a badge of independence, but living alone can be isolating.

Then, there's the time and expense of home maintenance. Unfortunately, houses age right along with their occupants; deferring maintenance can erode a home's value and your nest egg.

Cedar Crest Sales Director Ray Guarino notes, "Everyone loves our beautiful campus, the spacious apartment homes, and wonderful amenities. Typically, their only reservation is leaving their house. But once they're here, most residents say, 'I should have done this sooner.'"

He adds, "While people have all kinds of different reasons for choosing Cedar Crest, the one I hear the most is the opportunity to be with like-minded friends and enjoy the wealth of amenities and activities on campus. There is no doubt that a person's sense of community and belonging at Cedar Crest is helping residents live happier and healthier lives."

A tale of two Carolyns

Carolyn Hunt hesitated to move after her husband passed away until an accident sidelined her. "I was alone in my house in a semi-rural area when it happened. I realized that I didn't need that big house and didn't want to be isolated. I wanted to be with people," she recalls.

As soon as the retired teacher recovered, she began searching for a new home. A friend who works at Cedar Crest brought her to the annual resident craft fair, and she loved what she saw. "I thought, 'Wow, this is fantastic. People are having a ball. Maybe this is the right next step for me," she says.

She joined the priority list, which enabled her to reserve her preferred floor plan and to attend events on campus. "I test-drove Cedar Crest for six months," Carolyn says, "going to classes and activities. I met so many people with shared interests and saw the active, engaged, fun life I could have."

She sold her house in three months and moved in December 2018 with the assistance of Cedar Crest Personal Moving Consultant Anne Connor.  Connor provides complimentary coordination of all realty and moving needs, including selection of real estate professionals, downsizing resources, movers, and more.

Carolyn says, "Moving to Cedar Crest was the best decision I've ever made, and this was a biggie. I'm closer to my family, and I feel extremely secure and safe here. It's stress-free, easy living."

Carolyn Barbara agrees. She moved in September 2018 from the home she owned for over 40 years. Still working as a nurse one day a week, she was tired of the maintenance and felt ready to downsize.

She knew Cedar Crest well because her parents had lived there for eight years. "I saw how much was going on when I visited. I joked that I wanted to live here when I grew up," she says. She researched her options and concluded that Cedar Crest offered the best value. "The other communities charged more and offered less. Moving here was a no-brainer," she notes.

Carolyn made friends quickly. She took classes and became a resident ambassador. On weekends, she plays water volleyball for fun and socialization. She's taken trips with neighbors and says the move has exceeded her expectations.

"I didn't think I'd get as involved as I have, but it's true that staying active and connected to others keeps you young and improves your quality of life," she says. 

Carolyn feels—and has told her adult children—that moving to Cedar Crest was her gift to them. "I've taken the burden of caring for me off their shoulders. If I ever need higher-level care, it's here on campus. It's all taken care of so we don't have to do a thing but enjoy each other. I love that," she says.

It's no surprise that the two Carolyns met and have become great friends. They often dine, take trips, and do activities together. They've even put groups of newcomers together to give them the same warm welcome they received.