If you’re retired or will be soon, you know this phase of life is rife with change. From deciding where to live to scaling your budget to filling the hours of your newfound freedom, your golden years can easily be tarnished by worry and stress. Joining a Life Plan community could be a good way to reduce this stress. In fact, there are several ways this kind of living may enhance — and even increase — your retirement years.

You’ll meet lifelong friends (for a longer life)

Life offers its share of trade-offs; as young professionals and/or parents, a moment of quiet solitude is a luxury; as you age, you may wish for a bit of the hustle and bustle or all-out chaos of those earlier years. There’s a reason for that. Person-to-person interaction isn’t just fun, it’s healthy. In fact, research has shown a higher mortality rate in adults experiencing social isolation and loneliness than in those who feel socially fulfilled. Living in a community atmosphere rich in communal opportunities doesn’t just make life more pleasant — it could make it longer, too.

“There are nice people who live here who enjoy a wonderful lifestyle,” said Eileen Moore, director of marketing at Providence Point, Pittsburgh’s premier Life Plan community. "There are people to go to dinner with, or to spend an evening at the symphony or the opera. It’s an opportunity to engage and make new friends. Often, as you get older, your world gets smaller. This is a world that continues to grow.”

You can really retire

You may not be punching a clock anymore, but when you’re living alone or with your spouse in a single-family home, there’s plenty of “work” required to keep up with your day-to-day life.

“I always hear women say they wish they could retire from cooking,” Moore said. “This kind of community gives people the opportunity to do just that, if they wish. They have a variety of dining options every day, from café style to casual to fine dining. But residents can still cook in their homes if they wish or even throw parties. It’s all about what they want to do.”

Without everyday chores, you’re free to spend your retirement doing what you love — or think you’d love. Providence Point offers enriching classes and activities, from iPad (and other technology) courses to memoir writing workshops to arts and crafts.

You’re motivated to stay fit

If you’re afraid your golden years will turn you into a couch potato, you should be. Research links sedentary lifestyles with increased mortality risk. And even if you’re retiring from a desk job, you may not get the level of the physical activity you once had simply by getting out of the house every day. This is where a Life Plan community can offer the support and structure you need to stay fit (and live a longer life).

“We have a heated pool, a gym and a wonderful staff dedicated to fitness,” Moore said. “We offer yoga, tai chi and countless other classes. It’s fun to do it with a group of people and a supportive staff, because that keeps you doing it. People come here and often get better because they get more fit. We’ve recently had to buy new weights because our residents’ strength exceeded what we had!”

You can put your mind at ease

While retirement is often seen as a time to relax and enjoy yourself, it can also present stress for those not prepared for it. One thing adults nearing retirement often overlook, or do not fully understand how to create, is a plan for covering health care needs as they arise.

“People spend the most amount of money on their health care in the last two or three months of their lives,” Moore said. When you choose a retirement community that provides a Life Plan care plan — not simply a place to live — you have the peace of mind of knowing you’ll get the care you need, whenever you need it. This gives seniors flexibility and independence when making decisions about their medical care.

“Today the hospitals want to get you out of the hospital quickly, but you may not feel comfortable or safe going back to your home,” Moore said. “We give you options. You can stay in our health care center or go back to your apartment and still receive the care you need.”

Make the most of your senior years. For more information, visit Providence Point.

This article is brought to you by Providence Point.