Blue Zones, Senior Friendships, and the Importance of the Tribe

Blue Zones, Senior Friendships, and the Importance of the Tribe

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



Friends can make life more meaningful at any age. Having a close circle of friends impacts your well-being in ways you might not be aware of—especially as you grow older. From influencing health choices to lending a sympathetic ear during difficult times, senior friendships play a role in determining how long and how well we live.

Research from the Blue Zones, a term that describes the areas of the world where people live the longest, illustrates the value of such relationships. It shows that senior friendships help older adults avoid the dangers associated with isolation, including diabetes, obesity, and depression. Isolation has become a recognized risk factor for early mortality.

Another interesting fact from Blue Zone research is that having a social network committed to a positive lifestyle can encourage you to live a healthier life, too. The opposite is also true. For example, if a close friend is obese, you are 57% more likely to suffer the same fate. Smoking statistics are equally as impactful. If a spouse ceases smoking, you are more likely to do the same.

A challenge many seniors face, however, is that social networks frequently decrease during retirement years. Friends move away to be closer to adult children and grandchildren. Friendships built on work-related interests may fizzle once you retire.

What can you do to build a positive social network during retirement years or help a senior loved one do so?

We have a few ideas you might find helpful for building senior friendships.

Building New Friendships During Retirement

  • Join a fitness group or club: What better place is there to meet health-conscious seniors than at a fitness club? Senior friendships can blossom over a Tai Chi class at the senior center or a water aerobics class at the local YMCA. Many fitness clubs also offer discounts for older adults.
  • Volunteer for a cause: Connecting over a shared cause is another way to make new friends after retiring. Your local United Way and are two organizations that can help you or your senior loved one explore volunteer projects.
  • Take a class: Learning a new skill can give your brain a boost, whether it is a musical instrument, an art class, or a foreign language. It’s also a good avenue for meeting new friends who share your hobbies and interests. Local botanical gardens, park systems, community colleges, and art museums typically offer community education classes and programs.
  • Spiritual organizations: Older adults often find themselves more interested in spiritual pursuits than they were in their younger days. Many churches and synagogues have groups dedicated to older members and their interests. It’s a great opportunity for nurturing the spirit and developing new friendships.
  • Join a club: Shared hobbies can also lead to senior friendships. If you’ve always been interested in photography, join a local photography club. Ditto for gardening, dancing, or any other pastime that interests you.

At Vitality Senior Living, we create an environment that allows residents to live with purpose. We provide opportunities for older adults to make vital connections and to bond with peers every day. It leads to a community that is creative and inspiring.

We’d love to show you around and help you learn more. Please call us today to set up a time for a personal visit.

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