Stoney Brook Relationship-Centered Living Series
PART TWO: Explore the 5 Components That Help Us Thrive as We Age
Welcome back to our Relationship-Centered Living Series, where we’re discussing the beneficial facts of relationship-centered living and why it’s important for older adults. In Part One, we defined relationship-centered living and outlined its key components and misconceptions. We also introduced the “5 Pillars of Well-Being” that Stoney Brook implements as its benchmarks for superior relationship-centered living – and which guide us in nurturing thriving people and senior living communities across Central Texas.
In today’s blog, we’ll dive deeper into each of these multidimensional pillars, which we’ve found necessary to accomplish that mission. Whether for yourself or an aging loved one, you’ll discover ways they can help a senior enjoy a happier, healthier and more productive life, as well as some next steps to think about.
Pillar #1 | Relationships
A foundational element of well-being, relationships:
- Involve a sense of connection, acceptance, inclusion, kindness and communication.
- Are identified by assumptions of good intent, respect, appreciation, seeking to understand, empathy, reciprocity and harmony.
- Both deep and informal provide human interactions key to good health and longevity.
Consider relationships and daily opportunities for personal connection and social interaction with others essential to health and happiness. Susan Pinker, a developmental psychologist, explains her research on this subject in her TED Talk, “The Secret to Living Longer May Be Your Social Life.” She says the face-to-face contact that takes place within relationships may even positively impact health and longevity more than other factors, like taking certain medications.
Fostering connection doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. To encourage yourself or your senior loved one, begin by adding in a few of these easy options:
- Regular family visits
- Check-ins from neighbors
- Volunteer opportunities
- Involvement in local senior or community centers
- Church or club memberships
- One-on-one or group social activities
- Good listening and intentional conversations
The ideas above can aid in ensuring supportive relationships that satisfy that human need to feel seen, known and heard, along with accountability for sustaining healthy habits.
Pillar #2 | Health
Health includes and encompasses:
- Aspects of nutrition, physical activity, independence, dignity, sleep, rest and relaxation. These aspects can be accomplished by setting healthy daily habits.
- Financial wellness, such as planning for the future.
- Concepts of stewardship and sustainability for yourself, your community, the organization and the larger world.
If the aging process has made it challenging for you or the senior in your life to sustain healthy habits, ask the following, practical questions in figuring out how to move forward:
- How much time is spent interacting/dining/socializing with other people each day?
- How much time and effort are required for routine activities?
- Is the home environment safe, comfortable and structured for optimal independence?
- Is meal preparation manageable? Is there consistent access to healthy and nutritious meals?
- What kind of support and accountability are available for managing wellness goals?
- Are financial documents and health care directives in place and accessible?
- Is there a need for additional care, assistance or support?
Pillar #3 | Mindset
The mindset pillar:
- Includes personal outlook, educational and growth opportunities, attitude, hope, thankfulness and gratitude.
- Is connected to collaboration, innovation, teamwork and identifying limiting beliefs such as those surrounding ageism and ableism.
- Provides opportunities to utilize strengths and identify weaknesses and work to improve them in our pursuits. Mentorship and coaching can be instrumental in these growth opportunities.
As we grow older and more settled in our ways of thinking, it can be increasingly tough to shift our personal outlook and behavior. Fortunately, there’s plenty of evidence showing us how powerful our mindset can be in changing how we age – for the better.
According to Elissa Epel, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Francisco, “It comes down to daily behavior and the choices we make. We have a growing set of studies of people from around the world showing that aging is not just an aspect of genetics but of how we live.”
Want some tips and strategies to create and maintain an affirmative mindset? Peruse Positive Psychology’s resources in the article, "Positive Aging: 10+ Principles to Shift Beliefs Around Age."
Pillar #4 | Spirit
- An understanding that there is a sense of something greater than yourself; your spirituality, religion and/or meaningful connections that can come through nature, relationships, hobbies, prayer, meditation, mindfulness, beauty, vocation and service to others.
At Stoney Brook, we believe that relationship-centered living means caring for the body, the mind and the spirit. In order to nourish our spirit, we must pay attention to what brings us happiness, meaning and purpose in different activities of life – and intentionally seek to experience them on a daily basis.
To tap into this component, our Stoney Brook team members encourage residents to:
- Practice prayer or meditation to connect to something greater.
- Take opportunities to participate in a favorite hobby that brings joy, peace, rest and awe.
- Spend time with family or in nature to feel and appreciate love and beauty.
- Connect with friends who uplift their spirit.
Best of all, by enjoying these experiences and awakening these feelings within ourselves, we can enrich our complete well-being.
Pillar #5 | Purpose
Part of our true being, purpose is the unique calling of what drives us from deep within. Note that:
- Our sense of purpose and meaning evolves and changes over time and can become buried under real or perceived limitations.
- Life satisfaction, meaning and purpose can grow from giving, contributing, honoring, creating and sustaining traditions, and getting outside of ourselves to help others.
We believe fulfilling a sense of purpose to be central to our relationship-centered approach – and research proves that it’s critical to aging well. But purposeful living doesn’t have to be singly focused or complex. Among the simple activities we suggest to senior living residents are:
- Foster friendships with neighbors and staff members.
- Chat and laugh with others, or be the confidante or shoulder that they can lean on.
- Join a club, an educational workshop or another stimulating activity or event.
- Learn or refine a skill.
- Cook a meal for loved ones.
- Support a new, local cause, possibly by volunteering or raising funds.
However they express it, by rekindling a sense of purpose and meaning – supported by community – seniors gain a great advantage in upholding a life that’s happy, healthy and productive.
Watch our blog for the next installments of our Relationship-Centered Living Series. You’ll continue to explore how relationship-centered living and becoming a valued community contributor can greatly benefit a senior’s total wellness.
Trust a Central Texas Senior Living Leader
Now’s the time to find out how a senior living option in your area could be your ideal choice and provide the many benefits of a “village” environment. An expert in assisted living and memory care, Stoney Brook designed its senior living communities to help residents flourish. Through a fun, sociable environment and ample, stimulating activities, you or your loved one can age well – and savor each day to its absolute fullest.
Be sure to tour the communities you like and speak with staff members and residents to guarantee you have all the vital information in hand to make the best decision.