What is a community? Merriam-Webster defines it as “a unified body of individuals.” Author and analyst Brian Solis offers a more philosophical characterization as he focuses on the potential power of this entity: “Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” What is the power of community?
The Power of Community
Being part of a community can offer benefits that anyone would be happy to have. Unfortunately, it can sometimes seem like joining a community becomes trickier as you age. However, there are ways even seniors can find their place in a new circle.
The Benefits of Community
When you join a group, you’re pooling resources. That creates some real advantages for everyone:
- Motivation. In vibrant communities, there is a push to work together to accomplish specific projects. This sense of camaraderie is empowering and tempts people to get involved.
- Inspiration. Seeing progress in areas can inspire others to take on leadership roles in projects that they care about, spurring greater community involvement.
- Experience. When a group of people gathers together, they bring their shared experiences to the table. Instead of just one person’s mistakes and wins to learn from, you can draw from those of the entire assembly. This wider diversity may help you make a stronger plan and find better resources.
- Opportunities. In an active community, there’s always something going on. That means there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved.
- Contacts. When you have a wide range of social contacts, you aren’t stuck paging through the phone book when you need a particular service. You can reach out within the community for recommendations. In a similar fashion, if you’re hoping for an introduction to a specific person, someone in your social network may be able to oblige you.
- Fun. The power of community isn’t just in its practical benefits. The social aspect is also important. Humans are social creatures, so the ability to talk, share stories, and laugh shouldn’t be discounted.
Ways Seniors Can Join a Community
Children often seem to tumble into friendships with ease. For adults, it’s a different story. Joining a community or forming friendships can be difficult. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. You simply have to work a little harder to create the possibility:
- Extend and accept invitations. Sitting at home won’t help you get involved. If you want to find a place in a larger group, you have to put yourself out there. That means reaching out to others and accepting the hands that are extended to you if you’re interested in learning more about their offer.
- Volunteer. Volunteering for a cause that you care about can be a great way to meet people with interests and values similar to yours.
- Join a faith community. Faith communities often have special events that can provide opportunities for members to interact and get to know one another.
- Take up a new interest. Taking a class online or in person, attending a lecture, touring a museum, or going to the gym can help you explore a new interest and improve your well-being. It may also provide a chance to connect with people who have similar interests.
- Join a senior living community. Moving into a senior living community can be a fantastic way to become a part of a new social group. These communities are designed to offer friendly, people-based atmospheres, so you’ll find activities and events to help you engage with your new neighbors. Most communities have supportive staff on hand who are ready to assist you if you run into trouble or have ideas to share about future events or happenings.
As Forbes points out, people who are socially engaged tend to age better, experience less stress, recover more quickly from illness, deal with less memory loss, and live longer overall. Clearly, the power of community can be incredibly uplifting.
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