As the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head, I'm fortunate to meet new people every day, each with their own story and personal needs.
Having had my parents take residence in a senior retirement community in Williamsburg, Va., four years ago, I remember all the questions I needed to have answered, specifically those involving my mother, who had advanced dementia issues.
In that we're all defined as "social animals" (some more social than others), it's the socialization aspect of one's daily life that concerns me most when meeting with seniors who have lost their spouse.
I can't tell you how many times I meet folks who are living by themselves in a 2,500-square-foot home in a neighborhood where all their friends have passed on or moved away to live with their kids. This is a perfect example of isolation.
Independence - our ability to make our own decisions, to do what we want when we want - is a way of life we take for granted once we have a driver's license.
What happens when declining eyesight, cognitive issues or poor depth perception keep us from driving? The issue of isolation becomes an even greater concern.
Many clinical studies have proven that isolation or lack of socialization can be a contributing factor to depression. And I can tell you from my own experience, if you're not engaging with people in any capacity, it's a very lonely world and not healthy for your brain or body.
Yes, we all need the human touch.
When you lose your spouse and have no one to spend your time with, it's critical to create an environment where there is social interaction, whether it's a cup of coffee with a friend, a game of bridge or sharing a meal together.
Larger groups provide more interaction. Try a couple of exercise classes, the brain-busting challenge of Team Trivial Pursuit or cocktails with the neighbors at Happy Hour. The ability to interact and engage with many people creates and promotes a healthy lifestyle even as we age.
Senior retirement communities provide an invaluable opportunity to forge new friendships and reminisce with peers about good times had and those yet to come.
Daily camaraderie enhances the life we live. The human touch is a true blessing for all of us.
Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.org