As we look forward to 2024 one of the themes that Northbridge plans to highlight is the importance of Belonging. From the residents in our Avita Memory Care neighborhoods to the families in our Support Groups and the associates with a multitude of cultural backgrounds, there is so much opportunity to create a sense of belonging within our communities.
They say it’s cool to care but why is it best to belong?
Our need to belong starts at the very beginning as babies and continues throughout childhood as we start attending school. As children start developing their own interests and hobbies they develop a sense of self, of who they are in relation to others. They also start to meet friends who share those similar interests.
Why does it feel so good to belong? When you are part of something bigger than yourself you feel valued, supported and understand that you can share your thoughts, emotions and life with others. Feelings of belonging help to buffer other feelings like loneliness and isolation. Belonging to something, a culture, a religion, a team, a fan base- it can provide meaningfulness and purpose.
No matter what age, we all have a desire to belong.
Fostering an environment of belonging in senior living is important to the wellbeing of the overall community. At Northbridge we work to create communities where residents enjoy living, families are encouraged to visit and be involved and associates feel a sense of purpose. Naturally we make sure to have some fun while doing so.
Lets look at the many ways Northbridge fosters belonging within our communities. We encourage you to be thinking about, not only what you belong to in your everyday life, but if your mom or dad belong to anything or if maybe it’s something that slipped away overtime.
Maybe one of the most significant places we create belonging is in our Avita Memory Care neighborhoods. Everyone who walks into our Avita neighborhood is free and encouraged to be exactly who they want and need to be, to ensure happiness. To a visitor in our Avita neighborhood, some things might seem a little strange – it’s not everyday you see someone singing to encourage a resident to come out for a program. One of the best parts of living in a memory care neighborhood is the understanding that no one will judge you, not the other residents, not the associates or the visiting family members. Everyone has an understanding that the priority is to make each day a happy experience, whatever that might look like for the individual resident. In this thought everyone in our Avita neighborhood comes together to create a sense of sometimes unusual, quirky, atypical and individualized sense of belonging.
One area that is common to find belonging is while exploring a hobby. Many of our Signature Programs allow residents to develop new skills or define existing ones and meet like minded individuals while doing so. Our Artist in Residence program encourages those who enjoy creativity to come together and explore their passion. Cooking Up Memories, provides a many opportunities to develop belonging – from those who enjoy the art of cooking, to those who come from food prominent cultures and can explore the tastes of their culture together. Senior Green gives a voice to residents who are ready to make a difference and have always enjoyed activism. These programs create many opportunities for our residents to find a place where they belong.
Northbridge 4 All
When we talk about fostering a sense of belonging in our communities, we mean for associates as well. Our Northbridge 4 All initiative encourages us to explore different cultures, learn from others and develop a deeper understanding of the importance of inclusivity. Creating spaces for our associates to connect over culture, food, experience and more, opens doors for a sense of belonging not only within their community but within Northbridge.
Feeling a sense of belonging is important for everyone but especially for seniors. What we belong to shapes small parts of who we are and our identities. These may change as we age, but should always be present. A lack of belonging may lead to feelings of depression or anxiety- losing the ability to connect with others can be isolating. You may think that if you keep mom or dad busy enough with visits or outings that feelings of depression and loneliness wont come. Often times, stable relationships with others who are share similar interests and encourage meaningful interaction are more important then taking that trip to the mall. Understand that belonging is different then dependence. Your mom or dad want to belong to communities that they have always gravitated towards, they don’t want to rely on you for social interaction.
They say you can’t exercise away poor nutrition, similarly you can’t plan away poor connection. Fostering a sense of belonging doesn’t mean being out and around others multiple times a day, it’s finding people with similar interests or backgrounds and making those real and lasting connections.
So many friendships start within the walls of our communities, check out this story to see for yourself! What we’ve learned, is everyone does better when they feel they belong to something bigger, and find a group or person they feel comfortable to share parts of themselves with.
If you want to learn more about the many ways we create and will continue to create belonging in our communities be sure to connect with a community near you!
We’re here to answer any of your questions. Please contact us if we can provide further information or if you would like to schedule a personalized tour. Download our complimentary Family Decision Toolkit.