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Nonprofit View: Senior living community Acts Fairhaven prioritizes ‘community’

Nonprofit View: Senior living community Acts Fairhaven prioritizes ‘community’
Fairhaven in Carroll County (Bruce E. Morgan)

Most people think of “retirement” as a time of well-deserved relaxation and leisure, when the demands of career and family are reduced, and one can finally spend time on individual pursuits and treasured pastimes. Today, an overwhelming majority of seniors are hoping to stay in their own homes for this stage of their lives, a trend referred to in the senior living industry as “aging in place.” This desire is understandable, as the comfort and familiarity of home exert a powerful pull on the human spirit.

Despite this, eventually there can be an unanticipated downside to staying in your home for the long term: loneliness and isolation.

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When individuals retire, they often seek out activities, like volunteering or joining a club, to replace the fulfillment and socialization once gained through their work life. However, these activities may be difficult to find in the greater community, making it harder to stay socially active and connected to those around you. This is especially true if health or mobility issues make driving difficult and family or friends must be relied upon for transportation.

As a continuing care retirement community, Fairhaven, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Sykesville, embraces an “aging in community” approach that cultivates social opportunities and enhances the physical, mental and emotional well-being of our residents. With on-site outlets to engage in favorite activities or try new ones, residents can do what they love right on campus, whether it’s swimming, gardening, singing or volunteering.

Health and fitness classes, including yoga, muscle toning and even water aerobics, make it easier to prioritize health (and harder to make excuses). Specialized fitness and balance assessments empower residents to take control of their well-being and increase confidence and independence. For those who enjoy the outdoors, Fairhaven’s two miles of nature trails meander through woods and over streams, offering quiet spots for peaceful reflection — or observing birds and wildlife.

Spirituality is a significant part of many people's lives, and it can become even more important as we grow older. At Fairhaven, spiritual life is nurtured through weekly services in a variety of denominations, as well as prayer groups, spiritual classes and lay ministries that provide residents with abundant means to grow in faith and service.

Just as important as the abundance of social outlets is the sense of community and friendship among our residents, who are often seen enjoying meals and activities together. Studies have shown that older adults who have close connections and relationships with others not only live longer, but also cope better with health conditions and experience less depression. Not surprisingly, they also tend to enjoy greater emotional, social and physical wellness.

For all these reasons, Acts Fairhaven is a senior living community that puts priority on the word “community.” Our goal is to create an environment for our residents that fosters lasting connections, making it possible for relationships — and individuals — to flourish.

Philip Burkholder is the executive director at Fairhaven, a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Sykesville, Maryland. Reach him at philip.burkholder@actslife.org.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times will publish a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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