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Feeling good in the neighborhood

November 19, 2020

Amenities, activities, and meaningful friendships contribute to a long, happy, and healthy life

Catonsville, Md. – November 19, 2020 – Everyone knows eating well and exercising can extend your life, but research now shows that good friends and an active social life are just as important and may even add years to your life. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that having an active social life and close personal relationships can contribute to good health and longevity, both in adolescence and as we age.

Kathleen Mullan Harris, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill directed the study which tracked more than 20,000 teens into adulthood. She analyzed and combined the results from four large long-term human studies of health and social life and concluded that the less social connections a person had, the worse their overall health.

The national study found that seniors who live in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) have greater levels of wellness than older adults in homebased settings due to the abundance of social interaction. Over two-thirds of the CCRC residents surveyed said that moving to a CCRC "somewhat or greatly improved" their social wellness, a concept that encompasses a person's sense of connectedness and belonging within their community.

Charlestown, an amenity-rich CCRC located in Catonsville and managed by Erickson Living, offers its residents a wide variety of opportunities to have fun, stay engaged, and enjoy an active social life. One of the most significant benefits of living at Charlestown is the number of opportunities for safe social interaction, including dining with neighbors, participating in clubs and activities, and volunteering – all with appropriate physical distancing and other health precautions in place.

These opportunities promote healthier living and longevity while fighting the negative effects of isolation, a problem that many seniors face when choosing to live alone in their house.

"With over 300 resident-driven groups, clubs, and organizations that cater to different interests and represent a diverse cross section of Charlestown residents, as well as a wide variety of performances, presentations, and classes available virtually or in socially-distanced settings, building a social network is an extremely achievable prospect at Charlestown," says Mary Evans, community resources manager. Evans says an average of three to four new groups form each year at Charlestown.

According to a 2016 Freddie Mac survey of people over the age of 55, an amenity-rich community was one of the most important factors influencing baby boomers who were looking for their next home. Affordability, maintenance-free lifestyle, and walkability were also on the list.

All of the apartment homes at Charlestown are within walking distance of a clubhouse where residents can do their banking, get a haircut, meet friends, exercise at the fitness center, or grab a book from the library.

Instant connection

Anna Marie Ciarrocchi moved to Charlestown in 2014 from Columbia, Md., in search of a maintenance-free alternative to her four bedroom house. Now, with more free time on her hands, she can focus on doing what she loves.

"I'm more active now than when I was living in my home alone. Here, it's easy to meet people and get involved in things," says Ciarrocchi. "Everyone is so warm and friendly. I didn't know anyone when I moved here, but now, I have formed some genuine friendships."

Ciarrocchi's weekly calendar is full. She serves on the Charlestown Residents' Advisory Council, a group that acts as a liaison between Charlestown community members, management, and the Board of Directors, and serves as a voice for the people who live at Charlestown regarding their comfort, safety, and satisfaction. She is also the president of Charlestown's Chapel Concert Committee. When she's not serving others, she enjoys taking on-site classes and is in a book club.

As impressive as the vast amount of social opportunities available at Charlestown are, when introducing prospective residents to the campus, sales counselors Molly Fricker and Jim Hawes find it is equally important to highlight that the community isn't only for social butterflies.

"We realize not everyone is an extrovert, so we emphasize to prospective residents who may find the social aspect of living in a large community intimidating or uncomfortable, that they are in control of the level of socialization that interests them and how to safely connect with their neighbors," says Hawes.

Evans says for residents who prefer more solitary pursuits, as opposed to formal clubs and planned activities, there are many opportunities for individual activities or volunteering inside and outside the community.

"Charlestown residents are very generous with their time. Our volunteer program currently supports and facilitates volunteer activities for 800- plus residents," says Evans. "Finally, some residents just enjoy the company of family and friends. Others move to the community and maintain their careers."

Fricker says that while people have all kinds of different reasons for choosing Charlestown, the opportunity to be with likeminded friends and enjoy the wealth of amenities and activities on campus can't be overstated.

"There is no doubt that having a sense of connectedness and belonging at Charlestown is helping residents live happier and healthier lives," says Fricker.

If you are interested in learning more about the joy of living in community, please visit our website at or call our Sales team at 410-504-6870.

About Charlestown: Charlestown, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 110-acre campus in Catonsville, Maryland. The community is located in Baltimore County and is home to more than 2,000 residents who are supported by a team of more than 1,200 employees. Additional information about Charlestown can be found at

Photo Caption: Anna Marie Ciarrocchi is enjoying the freedom and friendliness of Charlestown since moving to the Catonsville community in 2014.

Photo Credit: Courtney Benhoff

Written by Danielle Rexrode