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According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) World Factbook, which tracks life expectancy at birth for every country in the world, a surprising truth is revealed: In 2016, with a life expectancy of 79.8 years, the United States was only ranked 42 out of 224 countries.

Obviously, a lot of factors contribute to this ranking, including, lifestyle, access to healthcare and simple genetics, but you’d think people in the United States–the wealthiest nation in the world–would live longer than people in say, Macau (#4 on the CIA list).

Here in the United States, it is often thought that senior living communities play an active role in life expectancy. Specifically, many life plan communities tout that their residents enjoy both longer and healthier lives than their peers who live elsewhere due to various social and wellness benefits.

The recipe for wellness for seniors

“Residents often find that a group setting is helpful for them to stay on track with their health and wellness goals than just staying in their homes. We offer so many programs for the whole person that they are sure to stay active, physically and mentally.” Lynn Alexander, Senior VP of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan and Chief Marketing Officer.

So, what does Presbyterian Villages of Michigan do to help ensure residents are active and in good health? Here are just four of the top ways in which PVM encourages senior wellness.

Health and wellness programs

Staying physically active has countless health benefits for seniors, aiding everything from cardiovascular health to mental health. Most of our communities have an on-site fitness center. These facilities make staying active convenient, and even fun, offering programs such as low-impact dance classes, yoga, and even cardio drumming. Our fitness centers have qualified fitness professional on-staff to help facilitate classes and teach seniors how to exercise safely. An increasing number of communities are encouraging outside activity with more walking paths, nature trails, and recreational activities.  

Social, spiritual, and educational activities

The “whole person” concept, which includes emotional, spiritual, educational, and social experiences, is growing in popularity in senior living communities. PVM continues doing a variety of things to nurture residents’ “whole person.” From common areas for socialization, celebrations, and activities, to easily-accessible gathering places for, for educational speakers and cultural performers, on-site amenities allow residents to continue to take part in new experiences and also enjoy one another’s company. Additionally, volunteer programs and university partnerships are becoming more common within senior living communities, a great way to keep seniors active, mentally stimulated, and socially engaged.

Healthcare

On the campuses of most PVM communities, a continuum of care is may be available to residents. Ranging from assisted living to skilled nursing care, and/or memory care. Convenient access to preventive care services and healthcare providers available to help monitor and treat chronic conditions is one of the big health advantages of living in a senior living community.

Nutritious food options

A healthy diet is at the heart of healthy living, and senior living centers provide an array of food and dining choices for residents. Most contracts for our residents will include at least one meal a day, even for those who are living independently. Since poor nutrition can cause or exacerbate health conditions, having access to nutrient-rich, balanced meals (chef-prepared and overlooked by a nutritionist) can help residents stay in good health. Special-diet meal plans–not just low-sugar or low-salt meals, but increasingly popular food options like vegan or gluten-free can be requested.

A focus on healthy living

For seniors who are considering moving to a senior living community, their motivation is frequently focused on long-term security: knowing that they will have access to a continuum of care should they need it someday. But because of the focus on keeping seniors active and well (both physically and mentally), senior residents may also get an added benefit: a longer, healthier life!

“I enjoy the fitness center, there are many different types of classes.” East Harbor Resident, Darlene Wallace.