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How to Stay Socially Engaged as You Age

Could Facebook hold the key to healthy aging? Maybe! Experts say that staying active and social can enhance your life as you get older and help stave off conditions such as dementia and depression.

There are many things you can do to stay vital and healthy as you get older — such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet — but experts now believe that one of the best ways to age gracefully is to engage in a little social networking, both online and off.

As we age, normal changes in the brain can make it more difficult to learn new information or remember things. For those with dementia, this intellectual impairment becomes so severe that it interferes with their lives. Sometimes cognitive decline cannot be avoided, but in some cases, keeping your mind stimulated or interacting with your peers may help ward off dementia and depression, another common senior health concern.

One recent study from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago found that highly social seniors had a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than their less social peers. Another study, by researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, discovered that Internet use was associated with a 30 percent decrease in depressive symptoms.

There are many ways to stay socially connected and intellectually stimulated:

  • Nurture your social network. Make an effort to maintain your close personal relationships with family members, friends, church members, neighbors, etc. Even if they’re not close by, you can keep in touch by e-mail or Facebook. According to data from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the 74-plus demographic is the fastest-growing group across Web-based social networks. Use of sites like Facebook and Twitter among Internet users 65 and older grew 100 percent between 2009 and 2010, from 13 percent to 26 percent. Many assisted living centers have even begun offering technology classes to get seniors online and in the social-networking loop.
  • Play “mind” games. Regularly doing crossword puzzles, playing chess and other intellectually stimulating games keeps your mind active and, if you play with others, helps you stay socially connected. Scientists believe that both your body and your mind follow the principle “use it or lose it.” So think of these games as fun ways to exercise your brain.
  • Join a club. Contact your local senior center and ask around to see if there are any clubs in your area you would be interested in becoming a part of. Attending regular book club, garden club, or art club meetings is a great way to meet new people and establish rewarding relationships with people who have similar interests.
  • Volunteer in your community. If you want to have a feeling of purpose or contribute to a greater cause, find a way to volunteer in your community. You can find out more about volunteer opportunities through organizations like Senior Corps, a government-run organization that connects seniors with local and national organizations in need of volunteers. Recent studies show that older individuals who volunteer have a reduced risk of death compared to their counterparts who do not.
  • Offer family assistance. If you have grandchildren or other young family members you would like to see more of, offer to babysit regularly. Chasing around after children is a great way to keep you physically active and improve your sense of well-being.

It’s not uncommon for older people to become socially and intellectually withdrawn. But if you make an effort to stay engaged as you get older, you will find more joy and satisfaction in life — and there is a good chance you will stay healthier as you age.

Waterman Village Golf Challenge

Left to right: Alan Jones, Don Gemming, Alison Brown and John Miniclier

The Mount Dora Golf Association hosted the Waterman Village Golf Challenge October 12, 2011.  The challenge is held semi-annually and is a 9-hole scramble with two residents and two staff members making up foursomes.  There was a total of 44 participants and 10 helpers that made the day a pleasure for all.  Sheri DiCarlo and Debbie Garay organized the event with help from volunteers from the Waterman staff  including: Betty Acosta, Abby Cruz, and Diane Hetrick.  Resident volunteers included Jean and Catherine Fay, Victor Hartmann, Kathleen Burlingame, Marian McCaskill, Jack VanHorne and Alice Maines.

After playing golf the players were treated to a delicious lunch provided by the culinary department at Waterman Village.  There were several awards given out including closest to the pin and most accurate drive for ladies and gents.  Each participant was given a raffle ticket and drawings for wonderful prizes such as gift cards to Red Lobster, Bonefish Grill, Outback Steakhouse and Barnes and Noble were given away.  Other prizes awarded included a putter, golf balls, hats, towels and VISA gift cards.

The winning team in the scramble consisted of only 3 players, Matt Pedrotty, Alan Scarborough and Jim Medek.  They had a score of 34, which is even par for the back nine and Mount Dora Golf Association’s course.

CEO Dale Lind was unable to play in the scramble due to a broken arm, but roved around the course in a golf cart with dear friend Victor Hartmann.  Mr. Lind also gave out some special awards to residents and staff alike including “least improved player”.  It was all in fun and everyone had a fantastic time.

Waterman Communities, Inc., Honored with Employee Choice Award!

Pictured left to right: Ada Emmert, Andrew Dujon, Kathy Bachman, Jack Wilburn, Lynn Haynes, Heardly Murdock, Dale Lind, Alison Brown, Tito Ardines, Gary Schultz.

Friday, August 5, 2011 was a happy day for Waterman Communities, Inc., as they were honored once again in the Orlando Sentinel’s Top 100 Family Friendly Businesses of Central Florida.  Waterman Communities, Inc., was awarded the number 4 ranking in the category of 249 or more employees.  Waterman has previously ranked 7th, 5th and 4th.

The happiest moment of the award ceremony for Dale Lind, CEO of Waterman Communities, Inc., was the other award that Waterman Communities received – the Employee’s Choice Award.  He beamed as he said “That’s the one I’m most proud of”.

Sponsors for the luncheon and award ceremony were Workforce of Central Florida and ALDI grocery stores.  There was a delicous lunch served to 100′s of guests as they awaited the guest speaker for the day, Dr. Robert K. Prescott, SPHR.  Dr. Prescott spoke to the audience about the trends shaping the future in business.  He is the co-author of “The Strategic Human Resource Leader: How to Prepare Your Organization for the Six Key Trends Shaping the Future”.

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