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Why Living Close to Family is Important

Our relationships are invaluable. In fact, a study from Harvard has proven that seeking out and maintaining healthy relationships can actually help prolong life. And the truth is, being surrounded by quality relationships makes us happier in the long run.

We crave familial interaction. This is evidenced by the release of the hormone oxytocin when infants or babies interact with their mother after childbirth. Because levels of this “love hormone” increase when you hug someone or interact with someone you care deeply about, this hormone is associated with empathy, trust and relationships.

Besides the physical benefits of being near those we love, there are many emotional benefits that explain why living close to family is important. It just makes sense to gravitate toward those who understand us on a personal level and understand the events, circumstances and choices that have shaped us as people. This is especially true for those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Stable, familiar interactions provide those experiencing memory-related issues with a sense of security and calm. While retiring near family isn’t the only factor elderly folks consider when choosing a senior living community, it can sometimes be the most influential and emotionally fueled influencer.

Does distance really make the heart grow fonder?

There are many choices in life that may influence a move away from your family members – heading off to college in a new state, following a business or job opportunity, or chasing a change of pace with good weather or mild climate. But when you’re retired, your time is your own. You decide what your days will consist of and who you’ll spend your time with, and for many, that time is best spent surrounded by loved ones.

With today’s modern technology and speedy transportation, loved ones can be a simple drive, train or plane ride away. However, there’s nothing better than having your daughter down the street or in a town or two over. When you live near your children, you can spend unlimited time with the grandchildren and babysit when needed. Being nearby means Sunday brunch with the family or Wednesday night dinners. You can easily attend monumental events like birthday parties and family weddings, plus the not-so-mandatory events like Little League games and ballet recitals. You are present, not only in your children’s lives, but in the lives they have gone on to create for themselves.

An elderly man teaching a young girl to play the piano.

Being close to family also means more frequent visits from people you care about, which can lead to more quality time and stronger familial bonds. Living near loved ones can also be helpful in case of emergencies. It’s nice to know your family can be there for you emotionally and physically when they live nearby.

Close, but not too close

While being near family can have its benefits, being too close to family can actually be detrimental to relationships if not managed properly. While moving in with adult children can be a good solution for some, often having Grandma or Grandpa full time in the family house can cause more problems than it’s worth.

When you move in with your child during your retirement, you lose a lot of flexibility and freedom. You are no longer operating on your own schedule and may start to view yourself as a burden to those around you. Adding another person to the household has a way of changing the entire family dynamic, and your relationship with your child may evolve into more of a caregiving role rather than mother-daughter or father-son. You’ve spent your whole life doing things the way you like them, so changing your habits and preferences to accommodate the rest of the family may end up feeling a tad frustrating. This is why moving to a senior living community can be considered a pretty freeing experience.

Comfortable in community

On top of the bonus of being close to family, you may find value in staying embedded in your community. Perhaps you’ve been getting your hair cut by the same barber or hairdresser for over 20 years. Maybe the restaurant down the street knows your order by heart. There are a multitude of reasons for staying in a community that feels familiar and homey.

Community is a strong bond that’s often strengthened by shared faith. Staying close to your church or faith-based community might be a primary reason to stay in the area. No matter your practice – Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, etc. – finding a faith community that doubles as your support system might be too good to pass up or leave behind. Even if you’re not religious, there’s something to be said for surrounding yourself with community members who simply get you and what you’re all about.

A senior woman getting her hair cut by a smiling stylist.

It’s important to remember that living in a senior living community provides all these social and spiritual advantages, and more. When you live at a retirement community, there will always be friendly people to meet and kind staff who’ll accommodate your every need. That means as you share meals in the community dining venue or start getting your haircut at the community salon, the wait staff will also learn your go-to order, and your new hairdresser will learn to cut your hair exactly the way you like it.

The right choice for you and your family

Whether you’re considering assisted living or memory care, it’s smart to look into options near family members or other loved ones. Many seniors who have family in the Salt Lake City or Holladay, Utah, area have found a comforting familiarity in The Ridge senior living communities. After all, every resident at The Ridge is treated like extended family.