How Environment Affects Senior Happiness

Posted by Kia Crawford on January 12th, 2015 in Mind, Spirit | No Comments


At Dogwood Forest, we talk a lot about the assisted living environment and how important environment is to seniors’ happiness. Most people can agree that environment affects day-to-day well-being, but how does that translate to a senior living community? And how specifically does environment improve a senior’s quality of life? Here are four key ways in which your loved one’s surroundings can boost their enjoyment of life:

  1. Depression and loneliness: As dedicated and loving as adult children are toward their senior parents, it can be hard to understand the level of loneliness that seniors face as they age. At the same time that they lose longtime friends and loved ones, they often face barriers such as forgetfulness, difficulty driving, and mobility restriction—all of which limit their ability to go out and socialize or even just pursue favorite pastimes. When seniors become lonely, they can easily feel a sense of isolation that leads to depression, and depression can affect their overall health. One of the greatest strengths of an assisted living environment is the social dynamic it presents, with other seniors of the same age group with similar interests sharing the community.The best assisted living communities cultivate social bonds through fun large- and small-group activities, helping seniors make friends and feel at ease again.
  2. Safety and mobility: Every assisted living environment should be designed to maximize safety and accessibility. This includes basic features, like wheelchair-accessible common areas and handrails in bathrooms, but can also include special precautions such as entryway designs that prevent wandering off-premises. Ultimately, proper supervision and a good staff-to-resident ratio is the ultimate safeguard for aging seniors.
  3. Familiarity: For seniors facing dementia, familiar objects are important touchstones that help relieve confusion and root them in a sense of place. That means that appointing a loved one’s room with familiar furnishings, and giving them familiar objects like favorite clothes or wall hangings, goes a long way toward their happiness. But more than that, community activities should be based on common experiences like favorite songs, shows or activities from your loved one’s earlier years. These familiar experiences make a dramatic difference in their happiness and quality of life.
  4. Emotional and spiritual well-being: Ultimately, an assisted living community is about much more than providing physical care for an elder. It’s about creating a safe, happy, nourishing place to live. All elements of the care environment, from the food to the décor, should be chosen to help seniors feel at home and comfortable. All of their needs, not just their physical needs, should be met.


Dogwood Forest is proud of the environment we create for seniors at each of our assisted living communities—and we’re happy to show you what makes us different. Contact us today and set up a tour to see for yourself what a positive living environment looks like.