There are more options for seniors now than ever before. Today, Americans 55 and up can choose from age-qualified neighborhoods or active aging communities, niche aging communities, communities with luxury amenities, and more. Palm Springs, Calif., for instance, is making history by erecting some of the first LGBT senior living villages. Research shows that these centers, with a focus on building friendships and community, serve a very important purpose.

Is Socialization The Key To Aging Well?

In the past, many options for seniors have been driven by things like assistance with day-to-day activities (a service four in 10 seniors will ultimately need), memory care for seniors, and other physical needs of older people. That is not necessarily the case today. Americans are living longer, healthier lives — and there are ways for aging Americans to tip the scales in their favor and continue living independently for as long as possible. And these ways point to the importance of the establishment of strong social communities, such as LGBT-friendly senior living options.

According to CBC News, “Engaging in more social activities was related to better self-reported health, less loneliness and more life satisfaction [in adults 55 and up].” Important studies support the claim. For example, a University of Michigan study of 3,610 people reported that “even 10 minutes of social interaction improved cognitive performance” and may ultimately slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Senior Digest adds that seniors who regularly socialize have lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, reduced depression, and are more likely to take part in beneficial exercise and physical activity.

LGBT communities may give options for seniors who previously had none, or had considerably less desirable ones. In any case, it is important for Americans from all walks of life to find senior communities that will promote and encourage socialization — whether that is, for them, a 55 and up community, a niche community, or a luxury resort community. In doing so, Americans will be able to keep the populations of aging seniors who need full assistance at a minimum (often starting at ages 85 and up), especially with full service nursing homes on a notable decline (down 1.6% from 2001 to 2008).