The World Health Organization’s report on age-friendly cities says, “Social participation and social support is connected to good health and well-being throughout life.” Since humans are social creatures, inclusion, or a sense of community, is key to living a long and fulfilling life. Most of us enjoy spending time with friends, family, and colleagues.
Beyond family and friends, socializing can also include participating in a wide range of activities.
Taking part in local activities is a great way for seniors and community members to get out of the house and get involved. Some of the most accessible options are farmers’ markets or swap meets, where seniors can gather to talk, interact, and commune regularly with friends new and old.
South Carolina has created a Senior Farmers Market designed to serve those over 60 and provides unprocessed produce at affordable prices. The Bend Farmers Market and Sisters Farmers Market are two excellent local venues. They will be running until October 13 and are monitoring the ever-changing pandemic restrictions closely.
High Desert’s Activity Director and Caregiver, Debbie Sammut, spoke to the Bend Bulletin on how a small community can encourage a feeling of togetherness. “Something I would like prospective residents to know about us is that we are a mid-sized community, so it’s easy to be social and active in the community if you choose to be. Because of the smaller community atmosphere, we truly are like one big family.”
Meet Like-Minded Folks at Senior Centers
Closer to home are several community centers designed to serve older adults. The Bend Senior Center is a prime example of an organized space created to provide a level of inclusiveness and a feeling of belonging. This Senior Center offers an exciting array of activities such as gardening, games, and senior fitness. At several sites across the tri-county, the Council on Aging is in the process of opening its doors once a week to community diners and making in-person Medicare counseling available. Call 541-678-5483 for an appointment.
“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse
Gardening has long been a favorite activity for people of all ages. Garden therapy (or horticulture therapy) is proven to help during stressful times or offset PTSD veterans. The National Library of Medicine has several research articles detailing the benefits. For example, one study highlights the use of a therapy garden in post-stroke rehabilitation. Being able to wander in a garden is both pleasant and promotes mobility. Community gardens and nurseries can also be good venues, especially in the warmer months, weather permitting. Contact Central Oregon Master Gardeners for local gardening activities.
Walk Your Way to Health
Being out and about is an antidote to alleviating loneliness and depression. Family get-togethers are an opportunity for everyone to experience the scenic trails and spectacular views all over Central Oregon.
Outdoor activities like walking are also an excellent way to gain muscle strength. The AARP explains the benefits of walking. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, it can also lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke, help manage diabetes, and relieve arthritis and back pain. The AARP recommends setting a brisk pace for 30 minutes at least five days a week.