Ageless: the connection between community and aging
If you see someone, a neighbor or something like that, that doesn't seem to have a community, be their community.
Just-- when I think of community, I think of engagement with other people, lively engagement. So-- but if we are isolated and we are by ourselves and we are
completely disengaged for whatever reason, that lack of community, that lack of support and--
and really togetherness impacts us severely, especially impacts older adults.
Get out and create your own community, but also, if you see someone, a neighbor or something like that, that doesn't seem to have a community,
be their community. Be there for them. I think it's important, and it's critical. And we will all see this, especially as we get older,
how impactful a positive, large, supportive community is in our lives.
[WHOOSH] When you think about community, the National Alliance on Mental Health really breaks it down beautifully into categories.
There are three, according to them, and I endorse this 100%-- belonging, support, and purpose.
So let's go with the first one, belonging. We all want to feel like we belong, right? We all want to feel like we're a part of something
and a part of a group and a part of people that are like minded. The second one they talk about how important it is to build your own community is support.
What you want to see happen is to have people around you that can support you, someone that, you know, will bring a meal after you've
come from the hospital, or someone that will just lend an ear, or something that is just as simple as having coffee with someone
or a drink with someone, whatever makes you happy, but making sure that you have that supportive force around you.
And then finally, I would say purpose, and purpose is a great one that they have categorized.
A lot of times, you know, you'll end up in a situation where you think what your purpose is. Stepping back and looking at, what is my true identity?
What is my authentic self, right-- and making sure that the community reflects that. Pick your community that works the best for you physically,
mentally, and socially. The piece that I just did was a crosswalk mural of brook trout swimming.
So it looks like the pavement is broken, and the brook trout are swimming underneath the pavement. [UPLIFTING MUSIC]
My name is Billy Smith, and I am an artist and art instructor here in Brevard, North Carolina. My work-- it goes from illustration
to painting to drawing. I'm always working on honing those skills and making them better. [WHOOSH]
COVID put a big damper on a lot of the things that we were able to do, but it also, I think, reinforced the importance of art.
There are so many people who wanted to be creative, but it's definitely a way to connect with all ages,
I mean, from five years old all the way to 92 years old. [WHOOSH]
Whenever I started to create, I felt alive. I started feeling like I had purpose. I noticed that I impact a lot of young people,
especially here in our community in Brevard and especially young artists. They always come to me and ask me questions about art and my process, and I know
that my purpose is to be here for them to help encourage them. Belonging, I think, is-- is something that we all
need to find in this world. I think being 100% of who you are, that takes a lot of trust,
and you have to be around people that you can trust in order to let that part of yourself out.
I feel like, especially here in Brevard, we really want to make sure that people belong. [WHOOSH]
Blue Zones has all kinds of different activities that people can come together and connect with.
Our forests are completely packed with people right now just because they want to get out. That, for me, and for Brevard, I think,
is the ultimate connector here that we have, is our environment. We have over 250 waterfalls, so it's so many things
that you can do. We try to create events and-- and different things that where everyone feels like they belong.
[WHOOSH] To reflect other people in my work
is kind of the reason why I got into doing portraits. When you capture the actual essence of somebody, you have to be able to connect deeply
with the spirit of that person that you're drawing. That's what I enjoy the most about any piece of art that I do, and if it can bring someone joy,
then I feel like I've done what I was supposed to do. [WHOOSH] I really think that it's important to embrace
a multi-generational field of friends if it's possible. [UPBEAT MUSIC]
I worked in nursing homes and realized in my work, that I wish nursing homes were a bit more involved
with the community. So when I had the opportunity to join the Carter Burden Network, which works in community services for aging,
it was a really exciting change for me. I worked in a nursing community as well, as a therapist, and I realized very quickly that once someone
had moved into long-term care setting, there wasn't a lot that I could do to help them. So it didn't take me long to realize
that I wanted to do something besides that and went back into real estate, realized that I could help
people prepare better for the possibility of those kinds of transitions. And actually, I feel like I do more counseling now
than I did as a therapist, and I do it from a more of a proactive, kind of preventative perspective.
[WHOOSH] The National Alliance on Mental Health really breaks down the benefits of community into three things-- belonging,
support, and purpose. So let's sort of break those down. You know, belonging, of course, is the idea that you don't have to conform to be included.
That's hugely important to our mental health but also that you have a kind of home outside of yourself. Can you give us an example of how that
applies to an older person? There are two types of community. You got to have your-- your small group, the people
who you know, who you trust. They're your advisors. They're your attorney, your financial planner, your real estate person, your doctor. There are those people that you can go to
for very specific, specialized advice. You have your family, who you can go to because you are vulnerable,
and you need really very personal support. And then you have the larger community,
and the larger community is your city. It may be your county. It may be your church. It may be a network of people, and that's where you plug into.
So you take-- that community should all blend over time. [WHOOSH] One of the things that we're able to accomplish at our older
adult centers is the fact that people are always coming together and breaking down that loneliness.
We may be the only person someone is speaking with if it's a homebound person. We also know that coming to an older adult center
isn't always the easiest thing to decide to do because I think there's terrible misconceptions about older adult centers.
And so I think it's one of the things that we have to work on. But when people do come and you see
the joy in their face, that's what our work is about, is bringing joy. When you talk about mental health,
that-- that it is so important that you have a sense of belonging to something.
[TENDER MUSIC] I'm so ready now to leave my apartment and walk and see people doing things
that people do, cars moving. I really need that.
I am downsizing. I'm leaving this enormous, beautiful house for a condominium apartment, it just so happens,
close to my daughter's house. I'll get to see people every day. I live on a house that overlooks the Bay,
and I don't see anybody when I go walking. And I don't go walking often because it's curvy and-- and downhill and all that.
The dog doesn't get enough walking because of it. And if you all are stuck in a big house, also--
and I don't doubt that there are a lot of you-- I think you should think about what I'm doing. It's scary, but think about, if you're
living in a big place, downsizing closer where people-- to where people are.
It's very necessary. I'm very nervous about it. I'm eager, eager to do it, and it's beautiful looking.
[WHOOSH] Some people feel like they have to be elderly before they consider a retirement
community. I think that's a misconception. [UPLIFTING MUSIC]
I watched my uncle and his wife in their 70s. They-- they moved into a retirement community in California and spent 22 years in independent living.
We would visit them and see them and see the community that they had and the fun and the activities that they had,
and we just started talking very early in our careers that this was something that we could look at whenever the time was right.
And I think that started years before we even started looking up here in Oklahoma. We had talked about it with them
that we were going to these seminars and learning about retirement, the cost, the downsizing.
When I moved in, what was on my list was exercise and book club, and they had both. One of our favorite things is eating meals
with the other residents and getting to know them and share stories and do activities with them.
We have a calendar that our activities director puts out every month, so we can just pick and choose
different activities. FRANK: I play pickleball three days a week, at least three days a week, and have-- thoroughly enjoy that and great exercise.
I think it's exceeded our expectations. A lot of the neighborhoods we lived in
were not the same kind of community. I mean, you might know some of your neighbors but not all of them. You didn't really do stuff with them.
Some people feel like they have to be elderly before they consider retirement community.
I think that's a misconception. Yeah, and-- and our advice there is to move in while you can still enjoy what they offer.
We have so many people that are physically not able to do all of this, and they want to get-- they want to move now,
and-- and they won't-- they won't enjoy it near as much as if they started earlier. I think we're still active enough
that we feel like we're in our 50s. Yeah. [WHOOSH] [AUDIO LOGO]
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