Retirement doesn’t mean scaling back our social lives. We may have ended careers, seen children leave the nest for lives of their own and moved from the family house in the suburbs. But we’re still social beings and need — perhaps more than ever — connection with peers and participation in activities that give our lives pleasure and meaning.
Nowhere is this better understood than at Ovation Heartwood Preserve, the upscale retirement community in Omaha, where the opportunities for social engagement are nearly limitless.
“Socialization is one of the most important factors when people look to choose a retirement community,” says Stephanie Grade, general manager of Ovation’s Omaha community. “And Ovation Heartwood Preserve is designed with socialization in mind.”
To ensure that new members are engaged socially to the degree they want, Ovation staff meet with them and with members of their families. Then, Life Enrichment Directors customize socialization experiences around residents’ individual interests as well as needs.
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As Grade and her associates are well aware, active engagement with peers is a key factor in physical and mental health. According to the American Public Health Association, socialization is critical to maintaining and improving older adults’ mood, cognition and memory recall.
Not surprisingly, the opportunities for full social engagement are greatest in the Independent Living community on the Ovation Heartwood Preserve campus. There, the 360 Rooftop Social Club features indoor and outdoor socializing spaces, including a rooftop deck. Behind the community building, a putting green and a bocci court combine fresh air, sun and exercise with chances to meet and compete with fellow residents and new friends.
In the assisted living community, residents are encouraged to gather throughout the day for a variety of occasions — from morning tea in the Two Sisters tearoom or for the nightly films and post-viewing conversations in the Carson Theater (named for famed late-night talk show host and Nebraska native Johnny Carson). Residents’ days in the Memory Care community, meanwhile, are filled with active, engaging activities that not only keep them connected to family, staff and one another but help stimulate memory and improve mood.
For residents of all three living options, community spaces connect the indoors to the outdoors while the immersive pool, spa, lounge and billiards room provide additional areas for socializing.
Shortly after moving to Ovation Heartwood Preserve, newcomers fill out a health and happiness survey that gives staff a base level assessment, and 90 days later fill out the same survey. “Our goal is to know that everyone who has moved here is happier and healthier than before they moved in,” says Grade. And for most residents, social engagement is the reason why.
With this level of attention paid to residents’ social lives and health, Ovation Heartwood Preserve has raised the bar for retirement communities everywhere.
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