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A balanced life is a better life for older adults

Opinion Piece by Barry Kaganson, CEO of Auria Senior Living

Johannesburg, October 21: Mental health is just as important in one’s senior years as it is at any other stage of life, and older adults can be just as susceptible to mental health difficulties as anyone else. We are living in unprecedented times and the events of the past two years have highlighted the challenges that we all can face in this regard, irrespective of our age.

Much of the personal development advice one reads these days is dedicated to the idea of designing a life of balance and self-care, in the knowledge that prevention is generally better than cure. At Auria Senior Living, we take this a few steps further by designing senior living environments that support the full range of requirements that make for excellent quality of life, including mental health. Every day, we see how it is possible for seniors to live a full life by taking good care of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of their lives.

While we believe that the best way to achieve this balance as one gets older is to live in an environment that provides the right support, there are steps that every senior (and their families or carers) can take to look after their mental health.

Have a good routine

There are many factors in our current environment which can affect the structure of our days – ranging from lockdowns and self-isolation to less pandemic-related factors such as retirement or a move. Personal routines which include planned time for exercise, socialising, connecting with family, participating in hobbies or other meaningful activities make a great difference to the quality of one’s life and contributes to overall better mental health.

Have a sense of purpose and connection

Feeling connected to others around us and having a sense of purpose in life has immense value. It is often important for seniors to replace the sense of purpose and identity that they had in their working and parenting lives with something new. Getting more involved with one’s community or a good cause can be a way to achieve this. Some people use the time to become more involved with their families, helping out with grandchildren, for example.

Including social connection time as part of one’s routine also has value, as people feel part of a social group and have a sense that they will be missed if they aren’t there. Once again, as people’s life circumstances change, these opportunities may no longer be there. Being part of an active and vibrant senior living community can make a big difference. At Auria, we specialise in creating communities where people feel at home and have daily opportunities for interaction and socialisation in both structured and unstructured settings.

Maintain your physical health and fitness

We know all too well that a healthy body and a healthy mind are connected. While getting older can come with challenges, continuing care retirement communities like ours are able to support seniors in looking after their physical health and fitness. Within our Auria communities, we conduct regular health and wellness screenings which ensure that any causes for concern are identified and addressed early. We also include a variety of exercise and wellness programmes aimed at enabling our residents to live as well as possible.

We have regular on-site clinics by experienced general practitioners, as well as some of the country’s most respected specialist geriatricians, all of whom are available within our communities and form part of our multi-disciplinary teams to advise, support and assist in monitoring the health and wellness of our residents. These teams help residents and their families to navigate the options for managing changing health and daily needs; advise on optimal care and lifestyle enhancements or interventions; encourage them to rely less on medication if possible; and enable them to retain an appropriate degree of independence even if their health status changes.

Have a good support base

At any stage of life, humans need to feel that they have support and care as they navigate life’s challenges. Maintaining contact with friends and family is obviously ideal under any circumstances, but many seniors find themselves with diminishing options as family members or friends move away or as their life circumstances change.

In our Auria communities, our dedicated care team members build one-on-one relationships with each resident. This not only has immediate connection value, it also enables team members to pick up on subtle changes that could be early indicators of problems, be they mental or physical. We also find that people forge new friendships within the circles of residents as they connect over shared interests or activities. All this creates a more solid support base around each individual than they might otherwise have had.

Getting older doesn’t mean that one has to live a diminished life. We believe that in a well-managed setting with professional care, a holistic focus and a true interest in every individual, every person can live the fullest life possible.

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About Auria Senior Living
Auria Senior Living (Auria) develops, owns and manages portfolio of senior living communities throughout South Africa. Auria is setting a new benchmark in continuing-care community living for the over-70s, providing for the intellectual, emotional, social and physical needs of its residents, in attractive and well-located environments.

The company’s flagship is San Sereno in Bryanston, and it has just upgraded Melrose Manor in Melrose North. Its latest Gauteng project, Royal View, is a 122-apartment senior living development on the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington golf course, due to open in 2022. Woodside Village, Auria’s first senior living environment in the Western Cape, is currently being refurbished and is expected to be completed by May 2022. Further Auria communities are planned across the country.

For more information on Auria Senior Living, visit: www.auria.co.za, or contact 087 654 8833.