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Service to community

Seabrook residents pursue their passions in many different ways

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January 22nd, 2015
Maureen Sullivan receives the Citizens Service award from Police Chief John Mioduszewski for her leadership and community service in Holmdel, N.J., where she was involved as a domestic violence advocate and with Neighborhood Watch, the emergency medical t
Maureen Sullivan receives the Citizens Service awa

Maureen Sullivan is known for her commitment to community service. So much so that she earned the Citizens Service Award for 2012 and 2013 in Holmdel, N.J., where she and her husband Tom have lived for the past 16 years. But as her neighborhood in Holmdel grew older, Maureen found fewer opportunities to participate with her peers. She was looking for more. 

“I’m a people person. I’m a very positive person, and I enjoy trying to make other people happy,” she says. 

Well-being, happiness, security

She and Tom lived in Village Grande, a 55-plus community in Holmdel of about a hundred homes. “People were getting less involved, and because it’s small, new people didn’t move in frequently,” Maureen says. 

When they discovered Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, the active, social couple found a solution. “We moved to Seabrook for wellbeing, security, and happiness,” Maureen says.

They found well-being in the on-site medical, fitness, and aquatics centers.

They found security in the round-the-clock security team, gated entrance, and emergency medical technicians on staff. 

And they found happiness in Seabrook’s 120 activities and 1,400 neighbors to do them with.

“Here, there are so many people you can meet and opportunities to get involved,” Maureen says.

Just three months after moving into their new home, both Maureen and Tom had joined a handful of activities—some they do together, some they do individually. 

Maureen joined the Nurses Club and square dancing group. Tom joined the wood shop. Together, they go to Mass in the interfaith chapel and swim in the heated indoor pool. And they both have learned to operate the sound booth for the performing arts center.

“It was fun learning a new task,” Maureen says of the sound booth. “Since we got here, we’ve gotten very involved.”

The couple moved in September, just a few months before winter’s cold weather hit the east coast. With that in mind, Maureen says she’s thankful they made the move. 

“I’m not a winter person. It’s wonderful to have opportunities to do things without having to go outside. You have all the comforts you could want here,” she says. At Seabrook, climate-controlled walkways connect every building, and the community’s two clubhouses provide amenities like a medical center, fitness and aquatics center, convenience store, restaurants, and game and activity rooms. 

Seabrook’s design enables social interaction and empowers residents to stay active and more independent. 

Benefits of socialization

According to “The Social Connectedness of Older Adults: A National Profile,” by Benjamin Cornwell, Edward O. Laumann, and L. Philip Schumm, “Age is positively related to frequency of socializing with neighbors, religious participation, and volunteering.”

What’s more, a research team at Rush University Medical Center found that older adults with the highest levels of social activity showed significantly lower levels of cognitive decline than those who were the least socially active. The study included 1,138 adults, average age 80, who are participants in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project.

The Rush Memory and Aging Project terms social interaction and activities “life space.” 

According to the project’s website: “Life space is the extent to which we move through our environments as we carry out our daily lives—from home to garden to restaurants to workplace and beyond.” 

The project’s investigators have found that constricted life space is associated with decreased cognitive functions. They recommend that people—particularly older adults—get out as much as possible and enjoy the world around them.

“Erickson Living is keenly aware of the connection between cognitive function and socialization,” says Resident Life Director Michelle Aguilar. “That’s why we encourage and coordinate so many resident activities to suit anyone’s interests and needs, whether that’s religious activities, fitness activities, craft groups, or intellectual opportunities.”

Maureen certainly found what she was looking for. “I find Seabrook is a wonderful place to continue what activities I was already involved in and to begin new ones,” she says. “Living at Seabrook is like being on a cruise ship with all the opportunities to do things. Secondly, it’s like being at Disneyland with wonderful and happy people. Those are two of our favorite things.”

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