Silver Spring, MD -- We all know we have to exercise and eat a balanced diet to stay healthy, but one of the best things we can do for our minds and bodies is to spend time with friends. The idea that friendship is good for us isn't just anecdotal—it's actually backed by science. Research has shown that staying socially active plays a significant role in healthy aging. One study found that social engagement is closely related to maintaining a sharp mind. The opportunity to make new friends and have an active social life is one of the many things that draws Maryland retirees to Riderwood, an Erickson Living managed senior living community in Silver Spring, Maryland. With over 2,500 residents and almost 300 clubs and committees, there's always something interesting to do at Riderwood—and plenty of other people to do it with.
"One of the greatest things about living in a community is that we can continue to encourage the people around us and to draw joy from them," says Jeff Watson, Erickson Living's director of operations. "In the average Erickson Living-managed senior living community, we have hundreds of peers to appreciate, dozens of groups to join, and multiple causes to fuel."
Making connections is easy at Riderwood
Joe Finan and his wife Kate moved to Riderwood in 2015. Joe says the opportunity to form new friendships was one of the factors in their decision to move to the community. They had several friends who already lived at Riderwood and knew from hearing about their experiences that it would be a good place to connect with like-minded peers.
"My wife was always more social than I was, so I've felt the difference since coming here," Joe says. "I have made connections much more easily than ever before."
It's not hard to make friends at Riderwood because there are so many different ways to get involved in the community. If you're passionate about politics, there are clubs for both Democrats and Republicans. Shutterbugs can hone their skills in the photography club. People who've always wanted to be artists can do ceramics or paint with others who share their interests. Ex-ercise buffs easily connect in classes at the on-site fitness center. Or if playing cards is more your speed, you'll find several groups of neighbors doing that as well.
"With over 270 groups and clubs, there truly is something for everyone," says Amy Hahn, community resources lead coordinator.
"Riderwood is a large community, but finding friends with common interests allows residents to find their niche and make Riderwood feel even more like home."
Resident-run clubs provide options
Joe is involved with Riderwood's resident-run pickle ball club and plays bridge with his neighbors. He's become friends with people from both groups and says participating in an activity together makes it easy to strike up conversation and develop close bonds.
"It's good to have people to lean on," he says. Even throughout the pandemic, Riderwood residents have found safe ways to stay connected. Joe says his bridge group started playing online while talking to one another on a conference call. During the warmer months, the pickle ball group played outdoors while wearing masks.
"I can't imagine feeling anywhere near as safe living in the house where we were compared to living at Riderwood," Joe says. Hahn says Joe's experience of forming friend-ships by joining the resident-run clubs and committees is common at Riderwood. She says she frequently observes residents becoming friends and lending a helping hand by walking one another's dogs, swapping tips about new technology, or delivering mail or meals to neighbors in need.
"Residents find true friendships, which is a gift at any age, but especially important during senior years to ward off loneliness," Hahn says. "Our residents are incredibly passionate and intelligent, and to see them bond together towards common goals is fantastic."
About Riderwood: Riderwood, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 120-acre campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2500 residents is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Riderwood is located in Montgomery County. Additional information about Riderwood can be found at Riderwood.com