The dictionary tells us that “happiness” is a state of well-being and contentment, and the Declaration of Independence tells us that the “pursuit of happiness” is one of our basic rights. But, what is happiness exactly? How do people – including senior citizens – achieve a life of happiness? It is interesting that the concept means so many different things to different people at various stages of their lives. At The Saybrook at Haddam, we spend a great deal of time thinking about residents’ happiness because, more than anything, families want to know that their mom or dad, grandparent or other relative will be happy living here.Recently, the New York Times published an article that created a direct link between seniors and happiness. The writer followed a group of seniors for several years, noting their daily activities, attitudes, and physical abilities. Over time, he realized these seniors “focused not on their declining abilities but on things that they could still do and that they found rewarding.”
In another article, Psychology Today magazine states, regardless of age, “much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures (such as warm baths!), getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself are all actions that increase life satisfaction.”
This all is music to our ears! In our effort to create a happy community, our activities team works tirelessly to develop a well-rounded selection of social, recreational, physical, cultural and educational opportunities that appeal to residents (and their guests). This means we have regular events, activities, guests and performers at our community – and that we travel around our region to take advantage of local concert halls, museums, state parks, garden centers, libraries, shops, and restaurants. We often welcome ideas from residents to introduce new activities or go places that interest them. This involvement is important and rewarding to seniors.
We also use daily meals as an opportunity to promote happiness. Residents never dine alone, and they have many choices where they eat: in our beautiful circular main dining room, our elegant private dining rooms, our courtyard, the country kitchen, or in Safe Harbor’s family-style dining room. Residents and guests tell us our meals are delicious, and we know they are also nutritious, a little adventurous, and full of seasonal favorites. Good food goes a long way towards happiness!
One of the best parts of our community is how “tuned in” we each become with one another. We can easily recognize when residents are not their usual selves (not “happy”) and we can tell when residents may not be feeling their best, physically or emotionally. While we are careful to respect privacy, we always are touched when we see neighbors reaching out to neighbors, lending a hand and being of service to each other. These are the intangible parts of happiness that are always so important to pursue.
The New York Times suggests spending time with seniors will change your perspective and increase your own level of happiness. Looking around at the smiling faces at The Saybrook at Haddam, we couldn’t agree more!
For a personalized tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please contact David Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 860.345.3779.