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The key to longevity and a fulfilled life

Created date

May 25th, 2017
Flags hang from the ceiling of a hall where Greenspring community members celebrate Diversity Day.

At Greenspring, community members enjoy numerous opportunities to socialize with neighbors and participate in a variety of special events, such as this diversity day event.

One of the biggest benefits of living at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., is the number of opportunities for social interaction, including dining with neighbors, participating in clubs and activities, and volunteering. 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. 

According to the results of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, “Seniors with the highest levels of social activity showed much lower levels of cognitive decline than those who were the least socially active.”

Greenspring community member Carolyn Nagler supports firsthand the study’s findings.

“The many activities and opportunities Greenspring provides contribute, in my opinion, to living longer, better lives,” she says.  “Our mental, psychological, and physical selves are stimulated every time we leave our [homes].”

Every step of the way

Opportunities for social interaction begin as soon as one joins the priority list. Members receive a wide variety of invitations to special events throughout the year, including luncheons, seminars, a home expo, a family fun day, and a holiday champagne brunch. These gatherings enable priority list members to meet the people who may one day be their neighbors.

“While on the priority list, I attended many events and took full advantage of all the resources available to me,” says Greenspring community member Vernon “Jiggs” Kaliher. “I met many wonderful people who are now neighbors. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to move to Greenspring.”

“Making connections during the decision-making process is a wonderful benefit of joining the priority list,” says Greenspring Sales Counselor Sheila Willing. “It’s an opportunity to share questions and experiences. Speaking with current residents provides insight from someone who has been where you are and who may become a familiar face once you’ve moved in.

“I also encourage priority list members to spend the night or a weekend in one of our guest suites to help experience what day-to-day life is like for people who live here.” 

You’ll never have to eat alone

For a new Greenspring community member, dining with neighbors at one of the four restaurants on campus is often the first interaction they experience with their new neighbors.

Community members can choose to arrive at their meal with a friend or group or ask to be seated with someone new. Most importantly, no one ever needs to dine alone. 

Following her move to Greenspring in 2014, Sue Leathers asked to sit with someone new each night. 

“I’ve met such wonderful friends,” she says. “There are three of us who now eat together each night and opt for a big table so that we can meet new people. I really feel the dining keeps me healthy. It’s all about the socialization. We laugh so much and have a great time. I never, ever use my kitchen. In fact, I use my dishwasher as a filing cabinet.” 

In her article “The Importance of Socialization at Senior Living Communities,” author Elizabeth Bemis remarks that “life circumstances may push us toward loneliness and isolation unless we take proactive steps to cultivate new relationships.” Continuing care retirement communities like Greenspring provide residents with opportunities to seek out interactions with others, especially over a meal.

“From the moment we moved to Greenspring, everyone was so friendly and inviting,” says Reesa. “We’ve met many of our neighbors as a result of the invitations we received to dinners and brunch.” 

Clubs and activities

In addition to dining, Greenspring community members enjoy the opportunity to meet like-minded friends by joining any of the more than 200 resident-run clubs and activities on campus.

“There is so much to choose from and new things to do, most of which I did not have the time to do earlier in my life,” says community member Marcia Aberle. “I love all the activities available to me.”

Since moving to Greenspring, Marcia has worked both onstage and behind the scenes with the Greenspring Players, the community theater group. She enjoys thoughtful discussions with the investment discussion group, great books, and history club. She creates thoughtful gifts with the knit, stitch, and chat club. And she tests her green thumb with the gardening club.

When they moved to Greenspring in January 2015, Marcia’s neighbors David and Lana Massoni almost immediately immersed themselves into community life.

“We enjoy taking the many special trips offered to us as well as making daily trips to the indoor swimming pool,” says David. “We’ve met many wonderful new friends and continue to do so. It’s so much better than we imagined.”

The art of giving

The abundance of clubs and activities at Greenspring also provide numerous opportunities for community members to volunteer. Each of the clubs and activities are completely resident run and exist thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers. 

Other opportunities include providing assistance at Greenspring’s on-site continuing care neighborhood; working at the Treasure Chest thrift store to raise money for the resident care fund; serving on the Resident Council; teaching English as a Second Language; and working at Channel 6, the community’s in-house cable station.

Looking to the future

Each new community member at Greenspring adds to the rich fabric of community life. In turn, Greenspring provides as many opportunities for social interaction as a community member desires. 

“You can do as little or as much as you want,” says Willing. “There is never any pressure to get involved, but there are always many, many friendly neighbors with a warm smile and a bright hello. And sometimes it is that connection that makes all the difference in the world.”